The 2012 NBA Draft has the potential to be one of the strongest drafts of the last few years, mostly due to the number of talented American college players.
Not so much with the internationals.
While the 2011 draft had several top-level European players including Jonas Valanciunas, Nikola Mirotec and Jan Vesley, this year’s crop is significantly weaker.
While there may be several NBA caliber players coming out this year, it is looking very likely that there will be no European players in this year’s lottery. Obviously, things can change drastically between now and June, but it would be hard to confidently say that any European prospect truly is a surefire first-round pick in the new ye,,ar. It is very likely that we will see several prospects break out in the second half of the season, but this year’s international crop has been a bit of a letdown so far this season.
It may be a less overwhelming international class than in years past, but there are still a few players who can be contributors down the road. Here is a look at 10 of the best international prospects who are likely to enter the 2012 draft.
1. Furkan Aldemir, PF, 6-10, 220, 1991, Team: Galatasaray (Turkey), Nationality: Turkey
Euroleague -G-12, MPG-14.8, PPG-6.8, 2PT%-53.8%, FT%-78.8%, RPG-4.9
Turkish League- G-10 MPG-17.1, PPG-8.0, 2PT%-59.6%, FT%-51.4%, RPG-4.9
During his time with Galatasaray, Aldemir has shown an ability to hold his own in the paint against top-level competition. While most European fours are very similar to NBA threes, Aldemir is a true power forward who finishes around the rim and crashes the boards. Aldemir may not be a surefire prospect like Valanciunas or other top Euro big men of years past, but after proving himself as a solid Euroleague player at 20 years old, he likely will get a long look as a first-rounder.
2. Tornike Shengelia, PF, 6-10, 220, 1991, Team: Charleroi (Belgium) Nationality: Georgia
Euroleague – G-12, MPG-18.0, PPG-7.6, 2PT%-46.8%, 3PT%-31.3%, FT%-66.7%, RPG-3.8 TO-1.6
Belgian League – G-10, MPG-20.6, PPG-8.2, 2PT%-57.7%, 3PT%-42.9%, FT%-50.0%, RPG-3.3, APG-1.2
Shengelia has an excellent shooting touch and basketball IQ for a big man his age. One of the more effective screeners in Europe, Shengelia likely will be ready to be an NBA team’s fourth big man next season. Very few young players understand the game like Shengelia, and while his ceiling isn’t as high as many of the high-profile American players in this year’s draft, Shengelia will be ready to play right away.
3. Evan Fournier, SG/SF, 6-7, 200, 1992, Team: Union Poitiers (France), Nationality: France
G-13, MPG-25.2, PPG–12.7, 2PT%-50.0%, 3PT-18.8%, FT-73.1%, RPG-3.4, APG-1.8, SPG-1.4, TO-2.2
Fournier has impressed as a 19-year-old starter in the French first division. While his outside shot leaves a lot to be desired and he needs to work on his decision making, Fournier has proven to be a productive player in one of the tougher domestic leagues in Europe. He is a natural scorer and has the size and athleticism to play the two or three positions in the NBA. While Fournier may not be ready to produce immediately, his game seems like it may fit more in the NBA’s style than that of Europe, and a team may take a flyer on him at the end of the first round.
4. Tomas Satoransky, SG/SF, 6-7, 195, 1991, Team: Cajasol (Spain), Nationality: Czech Republic
G-13, MPG-19.8, PPG–6.4, 2PT%-45.5%, 3PT%-37.5%, FT%-80.0%, RPG-3.2, APG-1.6, STL-0.7, TO-1.8
Playing for Cajasol in the ACB league, Satoransky has displayed excellent court vision and basketball IQ while playing in one of Europe’s top domestic league. With excellent shooting fundamentals and a proven ability to hold his own against the physical wings in Spain, he will definitely be on several teams’ draft radar. He probably would get drafted higher if he waited another year and put on some more muscle, but he will likely get selected somewhere between the end of the first round and middle of the second round if he decides to enter this year.
5. Leon Radosevic, PF/C, 6-10, 210, 1990, Team: Armani Jeans Milano (Italy), Nationality: Croatia
Euroleague- G-9, MPG-6.8, PPG-3.0, 2PT%-52.9%, FT%-90.0%, RPG- 1.0
Italy-G-11, MPG-12.5, PPG-4.1 2PT%-56.7%, FT%-84.6%, RPG-2.3, STL-0.7, BLK-0.2, TO-1.3
Radosevic hasn’t gotten a ton of opportunities this year playing on one of the most veteran teams in all of Europe. His experience banging with Greek center Ioannis Bourousis in practice every day should help him prepare for the physicality of NBA big men. He has displayed a nice touch around the basket, and typically, big men who shoot free throws well tend to have good fundamentals overall. He will likely be a second round Eurostash pick, as he will get opportunities to play in the Euroleague in the next few seasons, where he can expand his game.
6. Augusto Lima, PF/C, 6-9, 235, 1991, Team: Unicaja Malaga (Spain), Nationality: Brazil
Lima has only gotten a chance to play 25 minutes all season, playing for one of the best teams in both the ACB and Euroleague. After grabbing 7 boards in just 10 minutes against Barcelona, Lima has scouts intrigued about his long-term potential. Lima has excellent size and very long arms, but his skill set needs a lot of work. He has the body to be an excellent NBA player down the road, but he has a long way to go until he is ready to see NBA minutes.
7. Nemandja Nedovic, PG/SG, 6-4, 200, 1991, Team- KK Crvena Svedza (Serbia), Nationality: Serbia
Adriatic League- G-12, MPG-18.5, PPG-7.1 2PT%-58.8%, 3PT%-33.3%, FT%-55.6%, RPG-1.4, APG-1.8, STL-0.4, TO-1.2
Nedovic has excellent size and ball handling ability for a point guard. He knows how to take care of the basketball, and can run a team’s offense for a good stretch of the game. He will need to vastly improve his outside shooting to make an impact in the league, but he definitely has the tools to be an excellent combo guard. Very few guards his age tend to earn the trust of the notoriously difficult Serbian coaches, meaning Nedovic must be an extremely hard worker if he is able to get off the bench.
8. Nihad Djedovic, SG, 6-5, 195, 1990, Team: Roma (Italy), Nationality: Bosnia
Italy- G-13, MPG-25.9, PPG-10.5, 2PT%-49.4%, 3PT%-28.6%, FT%-78.8%, RPG-3.7, APG-1.9, STL-0.7, TO-3.2
Djedovic has shown an ability to get to the basket, and rebounds well for a guard. He makes a ton of mistakes, is very turnover prone and needs a lot of work on his jump shot. He has been given the opportunity to play through his mistakes, which likely will pay off for him in the future, but he is clearly not ready to play in the NBA now. He may be drafted based on his long-term potential, especially since he seemingly will get the opportunity to develop overseas, but he will need at least three more years before he should consider crossing the pond.
9. Sertac Sanli – C, 7-0, 254, 1991, Team: Galatasaray (Turkey), Nationality: Turkey
Sanli has only gotten 29 minutes so far playing for one of the best teams in Europe. While he hasn’t been on the court long enough to show much, his size makes him an intriguing long-term prospect. As a gigantic big man playing for a first class club, he is worth a late second-round pick as he could be a valuable big man off the bench down the road.
10. Lucas Nogueira, C, 7”0, 225, 1992, Team: Estudiantes (Spain), Nationality: Brazil
Nogiera hasn’t gotten on the court yet this season playing for one of the worst teams in the ACB league. However, you simply cannot teach a player to be seven feet tall, and his enormous size should warrant some consideration. Clearly not an NBA player yet, he pulled out of last year’s draft. Next June, he may get some consideration as a low-risk, high-reward selection at the end of the draft.
AJ Mitnick is an American currently living in Israel and working for Maccabi Rishon Lezion of the Israeli Basketball Super League. A recent graduate of IDC Herzliya, Mitnick also maintains a basketball blog, http://mindlessdribble.net, and is pursuing a professional basketball coaching license from the Wingate Institute in Israel.