NBA: The 10 European prospects aiming for the Draft

13/Apr/18 10:10 April 13, 2018

Dionysis Aravantinos

13/Apr/18 10:10

Eurohoops.net

Eurohoops presents the ten best European prospects for the upcoming NBA draft.

By Dionysis Aravantinos / info@eurohoops.net

The NBA regular season is over, ‘March Madness‘ is also over, and so scouts from all over the world, teams, coaches, and players are getting ready for June’s NBA Draft.

By the end of April, all players interested in declaring for the draft would have to sing up for it. Last season a record number of 182 players filled as early entry candidates and 40 of these players were from Europe. This year, the European prospects will play a significant role in the draft, as players like Luka Doncic, Moritz Wagner, and Dzanan Musa could all be selected in the first round.

The following ten prospects, could all be selected in the upcoming NBA Draft, so remember their name, because you’ll meet them again in the near future.

Luka Doncic / Slovenia

  • Team: Real Madrid
  • Stats: 15.1PPG, 5.2 RPG, 4.6 APG (EuroLeague & Spain’s ACB)
  • Age: 19
  • Position: G
  • Height: 1.98cm (6-6)

No introduction needed for Luka Doncic. A possible No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft is taking Spain and the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague by storm. In EuroLeague, the 19-year old ‘wonderkid’ has been averaging 17.1 points, 4.6 assists, and 5.0 rebounds per game, emerging as one of the best players. As it was stated by his mother last week, the Real Madrid guard will declare for the NBA Draft, but will quite possibly not attend the event.

Doncic can do it all at a very young age, lead this historic franchise to wins (ACB & EuroLeague), score points off the dribble, attack the paint as well as grab rebounds, run in the open court and hand out unique passes. In a crucial EuroLeague game against Crvena Zvezda in Belgrade, he was simply unstoppable. He finished with 24 points, scoring the game-winning three-pointer causing Red Star coach Dusan Alimpijevic to call him ‘great‘.

Many would ask what’s next for Luka Doncic and what he dreams of, but as his mother told Eurohoops, he doesn’t think about the future.

Dzanan Musa / Bosnia and Herzegovina

  • Team: Cedevita Zagreb
  • Stats: 12.6 PPG, 3.4 RPG (Adriatic League)
  • Age: 18
  • Position: F
  • Height: 2.03cm (6-9)

One of the best young players in Europe that can score the basketball and affect the game to a large extent offensively. Musa is averaging 12.6 points in the Adriatic League, which features teams from the former Yugoslavia, against some tough competition. He has great size, can attack the paint fearfully while also pull up off the dribble. In Europe’s 7Days EuroCup competition, the 18-year old Bosnian earned the EuroCup Rising Star Trophy, while also winning a similar trophy in the ABA Liga.

Back in November in Cedevita’s win over Mornar Bar, the 6-9 forward had all eyes on him as he finished the game with a career-high 35 points. He shot 10/11 from the free-throw line, made five three-pointers (5/6 3p.), showcasing his offensive skills.

Moreover, Musa has declared to the NBA Draft and according to the latest mock drafts by ESPN and Sports Illustrated he could be selected in the Top-20 of the first round.

Moritz Wagner / Germany

  • Team: Michigan Wolverines
  • Stats: 14.6 PPG, 7.1 RPG (NCAA)
  • Age: 21
  • Position: F/C
  • Height: 2.11cm (6-11)

Moritz Wagner had a phenomenal third year with the Michigan Wolverines. The 21-year old led his squad to the championship game but unfortunately fell short to Villanova. In the semifinal against Loyola-Chicago, Moe Wagner scored 20 points, while also grabbing 15 rebounds, making him the third player in the last 40 years with a 20 and 15 game in a Final Four game. He joined Hakeem Olajuwon of Houston in 1983 and Larry Bird of Indiana State in 1979.

It is not sure yet whether he will declare for the NBA Draft, but if he will, he could be selected in the first round. His consistent improvement over the last couple of years has made him one of the best ‘big men’ in the Collegian level, and he wants to improve even more and take his game to the next level.

Rodions Kurucs / Latvia

  • Team: FC Barcelona Lassa
  • Stats: 6.7 PPG, 0.9 APG (ACB & LEB Gold)
  • Age: 20
  • Position: F
  • Height: 2.06cm (6-8)

Last year, Rodions Kurucs declared for the NBA Draft, but at the last moment, he withdrew his name from the list. After playing one more year in Europe, the 20-year old Latvian has gained one extra year of experience that could help him moving forward. Kurucs, however, only played 21 games this year (due to injury), twelve in the LEB Gold with Barcelona’s second team, averaging 10.8 points, and 2.67 rebounds per game.

With Barcelona Lassa’s first team, he played four EuroLeague games and five ACB League games. According to Sports Illustrated’s latest mock draft, he would be selected 37th overall. His athleticism, versatility, and length give him an advantage on the offensive side of the court, but the question mark is if he can remain healthy.

Kostas Antetokounmpo / Greece

  • Team: Dayton Flyers
  • Stats: 5.2 PPG, 2.9 RPG (NCAA)
  • Age: 20
  • Position: F
  • Height: 2.08cm (6-10)

Giannis Antetokounmpo’s younger brother, Kostas is already making moves in the United States. In his first season with the Flyers, he averaged 15.1 minutes a night, scoring 5.2 points (57.4% FG), grabbing 2.9 rebounds, and handing out 0.4 assists a night.

As ESPN reported, the 20-year old forward is ready for his next step in his basketball career, as he declared for the NBA Draft. According to his agent, he will turn pro even if he withdraws from the draft.

His 7-2 wingspan, give him the ability to grab long rebounds, defend the post, while also alternate and block shots. His versatility on defense is one of his primary strengths, as he can defend opponents on the perimeter as well as inside the paint. Thanks to his frame, length, and height, Kostas can run the court in transition and finish on the other end.

Isaac Bonga / Germany

  • Team: Frankfurt Skyliners
  • Stats: 10.2 PPG, 4.2 RPG (BBL & Pro B)
  • Age: 18
  • Position: F
  • Height: 2.06cm (6-9)

Isaac Bonga is an 18-year old shooting guard-small forward playing in Germany for the Frankfurt Skyliners. Bonga has played 22 games in Germany’s first division, with Frankfurt’s first team, and has started seven of them. In these 22 games, he has been averaging 6.1 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per contest.

Bonga was called to the German Men’s national team in November 2017 to compete in the 2019 World Cup qualification games. Aged 18 and three months old, he played against Serbia in February 2018, becoming the youngest German player to do so in 40 years.

The 18-year old forward has declared for the NBA Draft and could be selected in the second round.

Issuf Sanon / Ukraine

  • Team: Olimpija Lubjana
  • Stats: 4.7 PPG, 1.7 RPG (Superleague & SKL)
  • Age: 18
  • Position: G
  • Height: 1.94cm (6-5)

A combo guard who can do it all on both sides of the court and influence the game positively for his team. The 18-year old Issuf Sanon is playing in Slovenia since January and is enjoying every single minute of it. After shining in the U-18 FIBA European Tournament, averaging 19.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists, but also a highly impressive 3.4 steals per game, he became one of the most talked European prospects.

Sanon can attack the paint, defend on the perimeter, but also steal the ball and run in transition. As he told Eurohoops, it all starts from the defensive end for him. “My game starts with defense. I love to play defense and then just attack the basket on offense.” 

The Ukrainian guard is expected to keep his name past the June 11 withdrawal.

Vassilis Charalampopoulos / Greece

  • Team: PAOK Thessalonikis* (Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens)
  • Stats: 6.7 PPG, 2.6 RPG (Greek League)
  • Age: 21
  • Position: F
  • Height: 2.06cm (6-8)

After playing with Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens the last couple of years, Vassilis Charalampopoulos was loaned to PAOK Thessaloniki*. In the 2017-2018 season for PAOK in the Greek League, the 21-year old guard is averaging 6.7 points (51% 2p.) and 2.6 rebounds per game. The Greek forward has had incredible success with his national team the last couple of years, in the U-18 and U-20 European championships, winning three consecutive MVP awards, the last three consecutive summers.

As it was reported by ESPN, he has decided to declare for the upcoming NBA Draft, because it has been a dream of his, and gives him the opportunity to challenge himself outside of Europe.

Goga Bitadze / Georgia

  • Team: MEGA Bemax
  • Stats: 11.8 PPG, 6.7 RPG (Adriatic League)
  • Age: 18
  • Position: C
  • Height: 2.11cm (6-11)

The 18-year old Georgian center has declared for the 2018 NBA Draft, after playing in Serbia for MEGA Bemax. When it’s all set and done, he could become Georgia’s best player ever to play the game of basketball, ahead of Zaza Pachulia.

In Serbia, Bitadze is scoring 11.8 points on 50.8% shooting from the field, while also grabbing 6.7 rebounds a night. What’s important to note is that he also has a significant impact on the defensive side of the court, as he averages 2.1 blocks per game in the ABA Liga.

In the 2019 World Cup qualifiers, he put up 8.2 points and 5.0 rebounds.

According to many experts, Goga Bitadze is also being compared to Portland’s Jusuf Nurkic and his style of play.

Arnoldas Kulboka / Lithuania

  • Team: Capo d’Orlando* (Brose Bamberg)
  • Stats: 9.5 PPG, 4.7 RPG (Basketball Champions League & Italian League)
  • Age: 20
  • Position: F
  • Height: 2.05cm (6-9)

After playing one game with Brose Bamberg in the 2016-2017 season, Arnoldas Kulbkoka traveled to Italy to play for Capo d’Orlando, in a loan transfer deal*. With Orlandina, the 20-year old small forward is playing exciting basketball, scoring 8.5 points (37.2% FG) and grabbing 3.7 rebounds in Lega A.

The Lithuanian forward, however, has also played 14 games this season in the Basketball Champions League competition, starting 13 games and playing good basketball. In these 14 games, he has put up 10.4 points (41.2% FG) and 5.6 rebounds a night. Back in December he also had a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds, leading his team to victory.

He has an excellent feel for the game and is considered a great young shooter in Europe.

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