The 2020 International Draft class was already shaping up to be one of the deepest classes in recent memory. The addition of LaMelo Ball and RJ Hampton – who are now considered international players since they decided to join the NBL League – made it even deeper, with at least 3 players having lottery pick potential, something that hasn’t happened since 2015. There are at least 15 international players who have a real chance to get picked in 2020 NBA Draft, which made it difficult to narrow it down to a Top-10. Some difficult decisions had to be made, but, for now, these are the 10 International players for this year’s Draft Class.
1. LaMelo Ball (6-7, PG/SG, USA, Illawara)
The youngest Ball brother is probably the most exciting, which says a lot considering the fact that the oldest brother, Lonzo Ball, was the No 2 pick in 2017 NBA Draft. To say that the last two years were difficult for LaMelo would be an understatement, but that shouldn’t be the case any more, since his decision to join the Illawara Hawks should give him the chance to – finally – focus just on basketball. LaMelo Ball is a polarizing prospect, even without all the family drama that has surrounded him over the last two years. He is a charismatic player, with great size, he can shoot the lights out, has great instincts and can pass with the best of them, although his passing can be overly flashy at times. He still has plenty to work on, starting with his body, as well as improving his shot selection and decision making when the game slows down, but he has a full season at the senior level in Australia ahead of him to improve in these areas.
2. Theo Maledon (6-5, PG, France, ASVEL)
The French prospect has already had a solid season as a starter at a high level under his belt and now he is preparing to have a similar role at the highest level possible: The EuroLeague, which is arguably the second best basketball League after the NBA. That says a lot about the potential of Theo Maledon, who has been on the NBA radar over the past couple years. Maledon has shown the potential to become a very good two-way player in the future. He has good length (with a 6-8 wingspan) and is a better athlete than many people think. He already plays the Pick and Roll at a high level, he has adept court vision and passing instincts and he is improving as a shooter, while at the same time he is a good on ball defender. He is not an elite athlete and has problems creating his own shot, but he still has shown more than enough for now to be considered a lottery pick talent at the beginning of the season. Whether this will still be the case at the end of the season is up to him.
3. Deni Avdija (6-9, SG/SF, Israel, Maccabi)
The Luka Doncic comparisons have subsided and that is a good thing for Deni Avdija, who has already had to deal with enough pressure over the past few years. That of course doesn’t change the fact that he is considered by many as the biggest talent of his generation in Europe. Avdija is a pure talent. An All-around, versatile player who can play from shooting guard to power forward and can create his own shot, while holding his ground on defense. What really stands out about him though – and actually brought the Doncic comparisons – is his play making skills and ability to create for his teammates with ease. He is far from ready, he is an inconsistent shooter and his decision making definitely needs work, but if he has a strong season, a lot of those doubts will evaporate.
4. RJ Hampton (6-6, PG/SG, USA, NZ Breakers)
Having decided to reclassify and then join the New Zealand Breakers, Hampton showed his draft intentions. A five-star recruit and one of the best players in 2019 recruiting class, Hampton knows that his – and LaMelo’s – decision could change the way High School players will explore their options in the future, but that’s probably the least of his concerns. Hampton is an speedy guard with good length, who is already good in Pick and Roll situations, while he can get just about anywhere he wants on the floor thanks to his speed and athleticism. The difference maker for him will be to make a smooth transition to the point guard position and improve his shot selection and defense on the ball. If he manages to improve in these areas, then he could go higher in 2020 NBA Draft than expected.
5. Killian Hayes (6-5, PG/SG, France, Ulm)
The lefty guard was the most advertised French prospect of his generation the last couple of years, but all this hype has cooled off the last couple of months. Especially after his decision to refuse to play for the French U20 team, which lead to his suspension for 6 weeks from the French League, and his decision to transfer to Ulm and play in the German League. Looking at the bigger picture though, his decision to sign with the German team probably gives him the chance to remind everyone why there was initially so much hype around him. Killian Hayes is a great – not elite – athlete, with an explosive first step, who can change speeds and direction without problem. He is very good on ISO situations, can shoot off the dribble and at the same time has shown a lot of potential in Pick and Roll situations and has good passing instincts. He still has to improve his decision making though and learn how to read defensive coverages on him in Pick and Roll situations, while he has to become a more consistent shooter and expand his shooting range. Playing in the German League and EuroCup will probably help him gain experience and if he has a good season, anything is possible.
6. Arturs Zagars (6-3, PG, Latvia, Joventut)
The Latvian prospect broke out last summer in FIBA’;s Eurobasket U18, when he lead his team all the way to the final. As the hype was growing, he got injured and lost most of last season. He is healthy now and if he is given the chance he can become the player everyone fell in love with a year ago. Zagars is a Pick and Roll maestro. He is fearless and despite his size is not afraid to go into the paint, but at the same time his biggest weapons are his ability to score off the dribble and his court vision. He lacks size, length and he must add bulk to his body, but if he manages to hold his ground in ACB this season, there is a real possibility for him to get drafted even in the first round.
7. Amar Sylla (6-9, PF, Senegal, Oostende)
After spending two seasons at Real Madrid where he had limited opportunities, Amar Sylla decided to take a different path, joining Oostende. For a lot of people that was a shocking decision, but the truth is that the Belgian League is actually a pretty solid League, with a lot of import players and a fast playing style that can help a young player grow, which probably played a big role on Sylla’s decision. The Senegalese prospect has always intrigued scouts, who hope they will watch him more this season. Sylla is a lefty combo forward, who checks a lot of boxes of a modern big: Long, athletic, with stretch big potential, who is more than capable of holding his own in all-switch defense. At the same time, his offensive game needs polishing since he is still raw, he must find a position and improve his motor, which is inconsistent. These are all things he can work on this season.
8. Henri Drell (6-9, SF/PF, Estonia, Pesaro)
One of the most interesting prospects in Europe, Hendi Drell will finally have the chance to showcase his talent in front of the NBA scouts in the Italian League. In reality, this will actually be his first exposure at a high level, since last season he played just 3 games in the First German League with Brose Bamberg, spending most of the season in Brose’s affiliated team (Baunach) in second German League. The Estonian prospect is bucket getter, who can score in a variety of ways. He excels in scoring on the move, while he has shown some potential in Pick and Roll situations thanks to his length (measured with a 7 feet wingspan). The problem starts when someone takes into consideration the efficiency factor, because Drell hasn’t really found a shot he doesn’t like yet, which is a problem, because bad shots means bad percentages and at the same time he shows a reluctance to pass the ball. And that is never a good sign. Still, it is premature to judge Drell, but this season will play a big factor in how he will be perceived by scouts.
9. Malcolm Cazalon (6-6, SG, France, Leuven)
The less advertised of the trio of French prodigies after Maledon and Hayes, Malcolm Cazalon has a lot of fans among scouts. Just like Sylla, the French prospect elected to play in the Belgian League this season, agreeing in terms with Leuven, hoping that he will have more playing time and room to grow, so it will be really interesting to see the results. Cazalon is an elite athlete with great body, who can play above the rim, excels on the open floor and can score in a lot of ways. Playmaking isn’t there yet, as he struggles to create for his teammates consistently and he is more of a scorer than a facilitator, but this could come with time and experience. If he manages to improve as a shooter, be consistent and find a role in his new team, his stock will rise.
10. Paul Eboua (6-8, PF, Cameroon, Pesaro)
Untapped potential is probably the phrase that best describes what everyone is thinking when Paul Eboua’s name is brought up, which is probably unfair. The Cameroonian combo forward is still young and has time to show everyone that he can become the player everyone has been envisioned he can be. But he better start doing this now that he will be playing in Italian First League after an inconsistent showing in 2nd Italian League last season. Eboua is a long, mobile forward with above average athleticism, who has the potential to become a beast defensively while he tries to improve on offense. He is still raw and lacks fundamentals and experience, things that have hurt his stock. But if he finds a way to show improvement in some of these areas, the hype will return.
Other players to keep an eye on:
Dalibor Ilic (6-9, SF/PF, Serbia, Igokea)
Biram Faye (6-9, PF, Senegal, Gran Canaria)
Giorgos Kalaitzakis (6-6, PG/SG, Greece, Nevezis)
Nikita Mikhailovskii (6-7, SF, Russia, Avtodor)
Aleksej Pokusevski (7-0, SF/PF, Serbia, Olympiakos)
Vit Krejci (6-6, PG/SG, Czech Republic, Zaragoza)
Matthieu Gauzin (6-4, PG, France, Le Mans)
Marko Simonovic (6-11, PF/C, Montenegro, Mega Bemax)
Borisa Simanic (6-11, PF, Serbia, Red Star)
Yam Madar (6-3, PG, Israel, Hapoel Tel Aviv)
Nikola Miskovic (6-9, SF, Serbia, Mega Bemax)
Lukasz Kolenda (6-3, PG, Poland, Trefl Sopot)
Gytis Masiulis (6-9, PF, Lithuania, Neptunas)