Feeling a Draft: International Prospects Cheat Sheet

By Jeff Fox

This story is all about impressing your friends at your NBA draft party.  So this year, when that 7-footer from Kazakhstan with a first name consisting totally of vowels and an unpronounceable last name gets picked, you can look more like Fran Fraschilla than Dick Vitale.  Here is your International Draft Prospects Cheat Sheet, giving you the scoop on this year’s top prospects from abroad.  Print it off, study it and prepare to amaze your friends and colleagues.

Danilo Gallinari, Italy
Projected Draft Range – Lottery Pick

A big (6’9”), strong, athletic wing player capable of putting points up on the board in a hurry.  Playing with and against grown men in the world’s top league outside of the NBA, the Euroleague, the 19-year-old Gallinari was his team’s go-to guy.  Look for him to start his NBA career in the vicinity of the SLAM Dome, either with the Knicks or Nets.

Nicolas Batum, France
Projected Draft Range – Mid first round to early second round

Perhaps the most versatile, skilled, unselfish player in the draft, the 6’8” Batum is similar to his fellow Frenchman Boris Diaw.  Unfortunately, he also doesn’t bring it every night like Diaw.  With a potential heart ailment that has been identified in recent physicals, Batum’s stock is plummeting.

Alexis Ajinca, France
Projected Draft Range – Late lottery to late first round

A 7-footer with a 7’9” wingspan.  Do you need to know more than that?  Well, he is also very athletic, smart but also beanpole skinny and inexperienced.

Serge Ibaka, Spain via Congo

Projected Draft Range – Last first round to early second round

Think Samuel Dalembert but with more athleticism and explosiveness and a better jump shot.  Sounds good, right?  But, in the words of Big Daddy Kane, he’s r-a-w.

Nathan Jawai, Australia
Projected Draft Range – Early second round

A wide (270lbs), still developing big man from down under.  However, at his age (22 when the season starts) you’d expect a more polished game and lack of NBA center height (6’9”) will limit him.

Nikola Pekovic, Serbia
Projected Draft Range – Early second round

A big, strong, experienced big man whose lack of NBA athleticism limits his potential.  Should still find his way into the League though.

Goran Dragic, Slovenia
Projected Draft Range – Early to mid second round

A big, quick athletic point guard who draws comparisons to Tony Parker.  He also shoots over 60% from the field, but is already 22-years-old.

Omer Asik, Turkey
Projected Draft Range – Early second round pick

In the latest issue of SLAM, Hedo Turkoglu mentions some young, big Turkish prospects he hopes to see in the NBA in the near future.  Asik, a two-time Turkish League all-star, would be one of them.

Ante Tomic, Croatia
Projected Draft Range – Early to mid second round pick

A skinny, skilled athletic big man who measures in at the 7’1”-7’2” range.

Jeff Fox writes more extensively about the NBA draft and college basketball at www.collegehoopsnet.com.  All hate mail can be directed to him at foxyjj@sympatico.ca.