2014 NBA Draft: Top International Prospects With Analysis
Over the years there has been a desire and a search for the next Drazen Petrovic and Dirk Nowitzki leading to a lot of opportunities for international talent, but on the other hand numerous failed risks. There have been some risks that had reward as well.
In the past five years there have been five lottery picks (19 total first round picks) with 2011 being the peak with 80% of those lottery picks being selected.
That was a bit down from the previous five years with eight lottery picks and 25 total first round picks total. There was a period where finding the next international superstar trumped scouting, which seems to have changed to a degree recently. This year may be different with the talent pool available and how deep the 2014 Draft is overall. No team is taking an international prospect No. 1 or in the Top 5 so there will be perspective with where the prospects will be taken.
Are there any franchise changers coming from outside the United States this year?
1. Dante Exum – Combo Guard, Australia: TEAM Australian Institute of Sport (High School)
There are very few players that get attention in the freshmen group as well as the international group, but special talents like Exum have the opportunity to be either. Exum has made the decision to not play college basketball in the 2013-2014 season. He is eligible to enter the 2014 NBA Draft and had a summer worth being in consideration for a Top 5 pick in this and any draft. In terms of skill Exum is not like a typical international prospect with his athleticism and smooth nature on both ends of the floor. He has great length, burst, and athletic ability to make plays on both ends of the floor.
This summer Exum has become a more consistent shooter making him a threat attacking the rim and spotting-up in the corner. With his 6-6 frame at the point guard position Exum is able to make an impact on the game very few at his age can.
2. Dario Saric – Forward, Croatia: TEAM Cibona (Croatia)
Sometimes talent is just talent, but with Saric a lot of other things get in the way to skew the perception of him as a player. Like Exum above, the combination of size, skill, and play-making separate what Saric can do from the rest of the pack. There are not many 6-10 players like Saric that can rebound the ball with the forwards and then bring it up court like a guard to make a play. That is something he can do on a regular basis with his passing ability and ball-handling skills.
Over the past two seasons Saric has been through a whirlwind with his on court promise against his peers mixed with off-court issues and struggles against professional players. He showed well at the U18 Championships as well as at the Nike Hoops Summit two straight years. There are very few talents like Saric when he is focused and on his game, but the focus and off-court distractions have been there for him over the years. Saric is a consistent jump-shot away from being a complete offensive player and take his game to the next level.
3. Mario Hezonja – SG, Croatia: TEAM FCB Regal (Spain)
The third potential lottery pick out of this class is another Croatian with an athletic edge at his position that most international prospects do not have. Hezonja is able to make plays above the rim consistently with his leaping ability and burst. On the offensive end there are very few things that Hezonja cannot do with his shooting and penetration skills. At 6-6 and only 18 years old there is a lot of room for Hezonja to grow as a prospect.
Over the years Hezonja has played against weaker competition than he will see at the next level, but he has outplayed them consistently. As a pure scorer there has not been a more complete offensive player on the perimeter in years, something that Hezonja has a chance to change.
4. Vasilije Micic – PG, Serbia: TEAM Mega Vizura (Serbia)
Big point guards with control and feel like Micic are a commodity at the next level. This summer Micic popped up on the radar with his performances at the FIBA U19 Championships and at the Adidas Eurocamp. He has shown the ability to control the offense and make plays for himself as well as his teammates in the middle of the floor. Micic is not a great athlete by any means, but does a good job of dictating the pace of the game to slow down the defense.
5. Leo Westermann – PG, France: TEAM Partizan (Serbia)
More size for position with Westermann at the point with his 6-7 frame and requisite point guard skills to go with it. He is a sharp-shooter with the ball in his hands from deep, NBA three-point range, and can get hot in a hurry. As a leader Westermann can control the offense and has evolved as a leader since the 2012 Nike Hoops Summit. His strength and athleticism are a work in progress, but as a prospect he has shown the intangibles to make the jump to the next level with his size and shooting alone.
6. Wang Zhelin – Center, China: TEAM Fujian QB (China)
There are discrepancies with the actual age of Zhelin as there have been in the past with other prospects from Asia, which is going to hurt his stock, but nonetheless he is a talented prospect. Zhelin showed great promise as a post scorer with polish and skill. He is not the strongest or most athletic prospect and can benefit from some more physical training there. Whether he is 19 or 22, skilled big men like Zhelin have their value despite the risk factor in not knowing their true age.
7. Mouhammadou Jaiteh – PF/C, France: TEAM Nanterre (France)
At the 2013 Nike Hoops Summit Jaiteh displayed improved skill and great physical abilities as a front-court prospect. In practice Jaiteh showed his ability to make an impact on the game with high energy and strength. In the actual game the lack of polish and skill to make an impact, but the physical abilities are there. When the basketball skills for Jaiteh meet the physical abilities then he can become a legitimate prospect.
8. Alessandro Gentile – SG, Italy: TEAM Olimpia Milano (Italy)
Over the years Gentile has been up-and-down on the draft boards. He has had inconsistent minutes to deal with, but when he gets on the court in a more pronounced role he has always been effective on the offensive end. Gentile has good size and strength for the wing that he uses to attack the rim and score from the perimeter. He is not an elite athlete, but has shown the ability to put the ball on the floor and create offense.
9. Kristaps Porzingis – PF, Latvia: TEAM Cajasol (Spain)
One of the more raw prospects in this class is Porzingis from Latvia with his raw athletic ability. He is an active big man that, with some added strength, can be an impact player on the glass. He plays with great energy and is wiry in the paint. He has the potential to be a quality rebounder, especially on the offensive glass, and has shown the potential to be a quality offensive player in time.
10. Tomas Dimsa – SG/SF, Lithuania: TEAM Zalgiris (Lithuania)
The term “glue player” gets thrown around often and it has the perception that it is an insult to a players ability. In contrast being a glue player means that a prospect, like Dimsa, can affect the game in a variety of ways that compliment the rest of the team. Dimsa has shown the ability to defend multiple perimeter positions, rebound the ball, and hit the open shot on the offensive end. He is a good athlete and has a good amount of skill, but never wows you with big time plays. The definition of a glue player.
11. Rasmus Larsen
12. Maximilian Klebers
13. Clint Capela
14. Dmitry Kulagin
15. Tauras Jogela
16. Michal Michalak
17. Mateusez Ponitka
18. Boris Dallo
19. Ilimane Diop
20. Kenan Sipahi
21. Nikola Milutinov
22. Ondrej Balvin
23. Artem Klimenko
24. Jusuf Nurkic
25. Nikola Ivanovic
26. Daniel Diez
27. Marcus Eriksson
28. Philipp Neumann
29. Viktor Gaddefors
30. Nikola Ivanovic
31. Guillermo Hernangomez
32. Jusuf Nurkic
33. Devon Van Oostrum
34. Nenad Miljenovic
35. Marcos Delia
36. Aleksandar Cvetkovic
37. Vytenis Cizauskas
38. Walter Tavares
39. Axel Toupane
40. Gabriel Deck
41. Charles Nkaloulou
42. Nick Spires
43. Li Muhao
44. Guo Ailen
45. Nemanja Besovic
46. Matias Bortolin
47. Bogdan Bogdanovic
48. Linos Chrysikopoulos
49. Louis Labeyrie
50. Djorde Drenovac
51. Adin Vrabac