TEL AVIV — With the announcement of this year’s early entry candidates for the NBA draft, now is a good time to take a look at this season’s international crop.
There are no clear cut stars coming from abroad in this year’s draft, but there are a few names that have a good chance to be solid contributors to teams down the line.
Furkhan Aldemir – 6-9, 230 lb, PF/C, 1991, (Galatasaray) Turkey
Projected Draft Position – Late first roundhttp://bit.ly/JLm0aK
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Of the Europeans in this year’s draft, Aldemir is the only guy who is a definite first-rounder. Aldemir has a nice touch around the basket, works hard to get positioning for rebounds, and has strong defensive fundamentals for a big man. With experience as a contributor on a strong Euroleague team, Aldemir is ready to contribute 15-20 minutes off the bench for a playoff team, and has the upside to be a full time starter down the road.
In a normal season, Aldemir likely would be gone by the 20th pick, but due to the depth of talent coming out of college this year, he likely won’t be selected until roughly the 25th pick. This scenario actually bodes well for Aldemir, as he currently would fit in much better in a backup role, where he can adjust to the NBA under the watch of strong veteran leadership, than he would on a rebuilding team.
Tornike Shengelia – 6-10, 220 lb, PF, 1991, Georgia (Spirou-Belgium)
Projected Draft Position – Late first round to early second round.
Shengelia probably won’t get picked in the first round, but he also is capable of stepping in and playing a role with a team right away. Playing for Spirou in Belgium, Shengelia has put up some big games in a strong league with a lot of foreign players. Shengelia is a crafty big man inside, although he probably could put on a bit more muscle, and like many European four men, he has range out to the 3-point line.
In a normal year, he would be a lock for the late first round, early second round, due to his combination of size, athleticism and skill, but in this draft, he may not get picked until the 40’s. To top it off, it is unlikely Shengelia will get an NBA offer bigger than what he could make in Europe right now, since European teams cover a player’s taxes and agent fees, so any team picking him likely would be looking at him as a prospect for down the road. Look for a Euroleague team or a Spanish team to try to secure his services if he slips out of the first round.
Evan Fournier – 6-7, 200 lb, SG/SF, 1992, (Poitiers) France
Projected Draft Position – Late first round to early second round
While Fournier’s game is suited for the NBA, he doesn’t appear to be ready to contribute immediately to a team. With his ability to create his own shot and get to the free throw line, he fits the mold of a successful wing player in the post hand- check era NBA game. However, at 19 years old, Fournier is not ready to be a major contributor to an NBA team, and likely will spend the next two or three years overseas.
If Fournier is smart, he will pull out of the draft and wait until he has the breakout season he appears destined for in the next season or two before trying to make a push at the NBA. If he keeps his name in the draft, he would be a clever gamble for a team with a late first round pick that is trying to avoid taking on salary, as he has lottery-type potential and could pay dividends down the line.
Tomas Satoransky – 6-7, 200lb, PG/SG, 1991, Czech Republic (Cajasol – Spain)
Projected Draft Selection – Mid to late second round
Satoransky has the ability to see the floor like a point guard, but the size of a two guard. Getting a chance to play in the ACB in Spain has given him a chance to learn the game at a very high level, and he is poised to have a big career in Europe. This guy has the physical tools and the natural talent to make it to the league, but isn’t ready to be an actual contributor to a team. With the recent success of big lead guards in the Euroleague, look for Satoransky to work through the ranks in Europe over the next few years before he even considers playing in the NBA.
Nemanja Nedovic – 6-4, 195 lb, PG, 1991, Serbia (Crvena Zvezda)
Projected Draft Selection – Mid second round to undrafted
Nemandja Nedovic is going to be a stud in Europe and is probably the most underrated player in the draft right now. He had a solid year in Serbia, where coaches are far more strict with their young players than they are in the US, after an outstanding performance in the 2011 U20 European Championships. He has good size for a point guard, and displays natural leadership ability. He has an excellent jump shot, can get to the rim and finish over big men, and can run the offense.
If a team is looking for immediate impact with their late second round pick, Nedovic isn’t the player for them. However, if a team is looking to roll the dice to hit it big down the road, Nedovic is a great bet in the 50’s. He likely will end up having a long career in Europe, but he has the upside to be an impact player in the NBA with some more seasoning.
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. Follow him on Twitter.