Basketball

NBA Draft 2020: Top international prospects

With the draft set to take place on November 18, take a look at the top overseas prospects, many of who will be hoping to line up for their countries at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

By Olympic Channel ·

The dust has barely settled on the LA Lakers’ epic league triumph in October, but attention has quickly turned to the new season and the NBA Draft 2020.

While American players will take up the majority of the top picks in the annual pre-season battle to sign the top new basketball stars, there is plenty of international talent also looking to make its mark on the league this year.

Who will be the new RJ Barrett? Canada's basketball revolution has been gathering pace for the last few years, which was highlighted by Barrett's selection by the New York Knicks as the number 3 pick in 2019.

Will there be another star from Asia like Rui Hachimura - the Japanese number 9 pick to the Washington Wizards?

This year’s draft begins on November 18, and below we take a closer look at the top international prospects - many of whom will be hoping to represent their country at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Deni Avdija leads the way

Israel’s 19-year-old forward Deni Avdija is odds on to be the first international pick.

At 6-foot-9 he has a commanding presence on the court, but he also has the playmaking ability of a guard.

He has experienced winning silverware in the international arena, having helped his nation to the FIBA U-20 European Championships title in 2018 and 2019.

In the latter tournament he was named MVP with an average of 18.4 points, 8.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 2.4 blocks and 2.1 steals per game.

In 2017, he became the youngest player ever to sign a professional contract with Euroleague team Maccabi Tel Aviv, but he will be looking to improve his 56% free throw success rate.

Deni Avdija is the youngest ever player signed by Maccabi Tel Aviv.

NBA-ready Killian Hayes

French 18-year-old Killian Hayes represents a relatively risk-free investment for any willing franchise, giving his already-mature playmaking ability.

Creative, yet accurate, the Ulm player can complete passes off the dribble and has a dynamite left-hand.

At 6-foot-6 and 215 lbs (97.5kg), he has the size to cause damage to opposition guards and a free throw percentage over 80.

He may need to be more vocal as a lead guard, but his base game is good enough to give him an opportunity to improve in other areas.

Aleksej Pokusevski looking to impose

Despite being 7-feet tall, Serbia’s Aleksej Pokusevski moves like a wing and passes like a guard.

The 18-year-old has been playing for Olympiacos’ developmental team in Greece, where his versatility as a shooter and passer has been on full display.

His only major downside is that at 201 lbs (91kg), he cuts an incredibly skinny figure and will need to add a considerable amount of bulk in order to deal with the rigours of the NBA.

But if he does get stronger, he has the potential to play as a defender, using his agility and 7-foot-3 wingspan to create problems for opposing attackers.

Passing genius Leandro Bolmaro

Is Leandro Bolmaro Argentinian basketball’s answer to Lionel Messi?

Just like his footballing compatriot, Bolmaro plays for Barcelona in Spain and boasts impressive playmaking skills and an intelligent passing game.

The 19-year-old is the man Barcelona turn to when they want to change the tempo of a game, and does a great job of defending when required.

Given his lack of jumping ability, only teams with superb aerial players will be looking at the 6-foot-7 guard.

Leandro Bolmaro pulling the strings for Barcelona in Spain.

The general Theo Maledon

Another emerging talent on the French production line in 2020 is ASVEL’s Theo Maledon.

The 6-foot-4 guard has a commanding presence on the floor, ably controlling the pace of a game.

Despite his lack of athleticism or ability on the counter, he offers a dual threat as a passer and shooter who is strong off both hands.

With long arms and core strength, he has the potential to be a useful defender.

Theo Maledon is one of several French players set to be courted in the NBA Draft 2020.

Yam Madar brings work rate

The second Israel player in our top picks, Yam Madar is a difficult guard to defend against.

The 19-year-old is confident on the ball, and likes to confuse the opposition with his changes of pace.

He relies on his accurate layups and floaters off both hands to score points, and just does not stop running!

At 6-foot-3 he packs a surprisingly hard punch in defense, but needs to work on his passing accuracy and his link up work with the team.

Late bloomer Udoka Azubuike

Kansas product Udoka Azubuike only started playing basketball at 13 in Nigeria, but was quickly spotted by recruiters and offered a scholarship in the United States.

The seven-footer had the most imposing physical presence in college basketball last season, putting up a 23 point, 19 rebound, 3 block effort against Baylor, and a 31 point, 14 rebound, 5 block performance against TCU.

He uses his length to protect the rim and grab rebounds well, and is constantly improving his conditioning for such a big unit.

His lack of agility could cause a problem on defense from open play, but having allowed just 0.43 points per post up possession, he clearly has the tools to be a useful NBA addition.

Udoka Azubuike was one of the stars of the college basketball season.

Versatile Abdoulaye N’Doye

With a 7-foot-2 wingspan, Frenchman Abdoulaye N'Doye possesses great versatility.

He averaged 10.2 points and 3.9 assists in the Jeep Elite league, and despite being slightly older than many of his draft rivals 22, could make an NBA roster as a 3-and-D specialist off the bench.

He has the ability to attack off the dribble and play-make, and boasts useful creativity with an array of over-the-top and direct passes.

His free throw percentage is acceptable at 75 percent, while his ability to disrupt one-on-one play in defense and switch onto different positions is definitely a plus.

The only major question mark over his game is his ability to score, with 13.3 points per 40 minutes.

Frenchman Abdoulaye N’Doye has the ability to switch positions with ease, and averages 75% from the free throw.

Injury-prone Killian Tillie may be worth the risk

Yet another Frenchman in the mix, 6-foot-10 forward Killian Tillie is a tantalising prospect.

The Gonzaga man would have been considered one of the finest in his schools’ illustrious history if it wasn’t for his chequered injury record.

In four years, he has had knee surgery, torn ligaments in his foot, an ankle stress fracture, numerous sprained ankles, a broken hip pointer and a broken finger.

When fit, Tillie has shown amazing potential as a forward, hitting 44% of his 3-point attempts while also being an effective rebounder.

He is a proven winner and could be a steal in the 2nd round if he can stay healthy.

Killian Tillie was a key player in one of the strongest Gonzaga teams ever.

NBA 2020-21 Key early date

*November 18 *

NBA Draft 

*November 20 *

Free Agency Begins 

Free agent negotiations begin at 6 p.m. ET 

*November 22 *

Players can sign contracts with teams beginning at 12:01 p.m. ET 

December 22

Opening Night of matches