All-International Prospect Team – 2018
By Jackson Hoy
If you follow the NBA draft at all, you probably know who Luka Doncic is by now. You might have even seen Dzanan Musa on a few mock drafts. But there is more to the 2018 international class of players than those two. While they are ranked as the best by consensus (and the only two likely first-round picks), there are plenty of other players who are going to get drafted from the international ranks, and it’s a safe bet that a few of those guys will become useful NBA players. Last week, I ranked my top sleepers in this year’s international class here, and while there may be some slight overlap between these all-prospect teams and that list, I’ll do my best to keep it fresh and profile some players the average draft follower might not yet know about.
Guard: Luka Doncic, Real Madrid (Captain)
Doncic is the most accomplished prospect in the last 30 years. The soon-to-be 19-year-old is on his way to a EuroLeague MVP award, something never even approached by a player so young. Standing 6’8”, Doncic is averaging 27.1 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 7.1 assists per 40 minutes while posting a PER of 27.19 in the second-best basketball league in the world. In case you forgot, he is 18 years old. His basketball IQ is on par with greats like LeBron, Bird, or Magic, and though he doesn’t have the elite athleticism of a typical top prospect, his production and accolades speak for themselves. Doncic is a point-forward who reads the game two plays ahead, owning an elite handle that allows him to create space for his pull-up jumper. He has progressed rapidly as a spot-up shooter in the past year, which has allowed him to become a greater threat off the ball. His proclivity for crashing the glass doesn’t hurt either. Defensively, his tools aren’t amazing, but he’s strong with a thick frame and knows how to position himself and which angles to take to maximize his athletic package. If Doncic were an athlete at the level of, say, Kevin Knox, he might be the greatest prospect of all time. Even so, his skill package, basketball IQ, and history of success give him the highest floor in the draft and potential for continued growth on a path toward superstardom.
Guard: Elie Okobo, Pau-Orthez
I profiled Okobo in the previously-linked sleepers piece, so read that if you haven’t, but I’ll go over him again here. Okobo is the rare point guard who is able to combine a favorable physical package (6’3”, 6’8” wingspan) with legitimate explosiveness and shot-making ability. He has deep range and a quick trigger from three, and while his shot selection can border on questionable, the Frenchman has greatly improved as a decision-maker over the past couple seasons. His assist numbers don’t do his passing ability justice – Okobo has great vision and is a capable pick-and-roll handler. He struggles to limit turnovers and he isn’t always locked in on defense, but Okobo has a plenty of game and is a potential riser to watch as the draft process goes on.
Forward: Dzanan Musa, Cedevita
Musa is a scorer’s scorer. At 6’9”, the Bosnian is a shot-maker who never saw a look he didn’t like. This season with Cedevita in the Adriatic League, Croatian League, and EuroCup, Musa has made across-the-board improvements in his game as his volume and efficiency have gone up. While he’s frighteningly skinny and has poor length (6’8.5” wingspan), Musa competes on D, meaning that he isn’t a complete tire-fire on that end of the court. One comparison that has been thrown out for Musa is a bigger Kevin Martin, and while Musa might not be the pure shooter that Martin was, he brings a similar approach as a scorer. Continuing to add strength to help him defend and finish at the rim will be key to expanding upon his perimeter shot-making and underrated floater game.
Forward: Isaac Bonga, Frankfurt
Bonga is the type of player who is more interesting in theory than in actuality. A near-6’9” point forward with a near-7’0” wingspan? Most fans would be quick to jump for a player like that in the first round. However, Bonga has serious questions about his skill level and its translatability to the NBA. For one, he lacks the burst to blow past players off the dribble, more reliant on his long strides for covering ground. Bonga also has a long way to go as a three-point shooter, though his 93.5% clip from the free throw line in the German top league this season is highly encouraging for his growth outside the arc. He is certainly a project, but players at his size with his level of playmaking ability typically intrigue NBA teams. Considering he won’t turn 19 until November, there will likely be a team that takes a bet on Bonga should he enter the draft.
Center: Goga Bitadze, Mega Bemax
For the more NCAA-inclined draft follower, Bitadze is reminiscent of a taller but less athletic Chimezie Metu. Like Metu, Bitadze prefers to hang out in the high post area and is a capable mid-range shooter. It is not hard to imagine the Georgian big man regularly stepping outside the arc in the future. Defensively, his engagement comes and goes, but he can block shots pretty well thanks to his size (9’2.25” standing reach). Bitadze has made meaningful improvements as a rebounder this season in the Adriatic League for a Mega Bemax club that is always loaded with NBA prospects. Still 18, Bitadze is an interesting prospect in a class loaded with bigs thanks to his youth and 3-and-D potential from the 5 spot.
Guard: Abdoulaye N’Doye, Cholet
Like Bonga, N’Doye is extremely interesting on paper thanks to his size for the point guard spot, standing 6’6.5” with a 7’2” wingspan. The French guard has lockdown potential on defense based on wingspan alone, but his offensive game is still in early stages of development. Currently averaging 9.9 points, 4.6 rebounds, 4.0 rebounds and 1.9 steals with Cholet in the French LNB Pro A, N’Doye adds very little as a scorer and is still learning how to play with the ball in his hands. He is certainly intriguing given his ability to see over defenses and run an offense at his size, but he needs a ton of development before he is ready to step onto an NBA floor.
Guard: Kostja Mushidi, Mega Bemax
Mushidi unfortunately just suffered a foot injury, the extent of which is unknown. This is concerning because he missed all of last summer with a fractured foot as well. However, in an international guard class that really drops off after Doncic and Okobo, Mushidi is still one of the best remaining options. At 6’5.25” with a 7’0.75” wingspan, Mushidi has ideal tools for defending all along the perimeter. He’s not very quick which gives him some issues, but he’s a worker who isn’t afraid to use his length to contest shots. Offensively, he is semi-comfortable handling the ball but likely won’t have it in his hands much in the NBA. His three-point shot has been wildly inconsistent throughout his career and likely is the key to whether or not he becomes an NBA player. If his injury is serious enough that he doesn’t enter the draft, improving his three-point shot will be his number one focus to get his stock up for the 2019 draft.
Forward: Tadas Sedekerskis, Kedainiai
Sedekerskis will have to hit shots to stick in the NBA, but he possesses many skills that NBA teams covet in glue-guy forward types. Standing 6’9.75”, Sedekerskis has excellent size to defend small forwards and is aggressive and strong enough to stick with perimeter-oriented 4s. Deviating from the “soft European” stereotype, Sedekerskis gets into the body of his man on defense and makes things difficult with his pestering style. He has subpar tools as a finisher in the NBA and shouldn’t be trusted to handle the ball, but he’s shown capability knocking down open shots and can make the right play when he needs to look for a teammate. Teams searching for players in the Joe Ingles mold could see similar traits in Sedekerskis, who isn’t the same level of ball-handler as the Jazz wing but offers an attractive glue-guy skillset and solid positional size.
Forward: Arnoldas Kulboka, Capo D’Orlando
Kulboka is a bit of a one-trick pony, but he’s good at his one trick. That flagship skill? Shooting threes. Between the Champions League and Italian League this season, over half of his shots have come from beyond the arc. While stretch-4s who are just pure shooters aren’t as popular as they were three or four years ago, Kulboka is a safe bet to get drafted in the second round if he chooses to enter the draft. He’s not a complete liability on defense thanks to his underrated length, although his lack of strength and lateral quickness are problems on both ends. If his perimeter game can continue to grow alongside his shooting ability, Kulboka could emerge as a draft steal thanks to his overall scoring acumen.
Center: Felipe Dos Anjos, Burgos
Sadly for the Brazilian big man, he’s had a rough time getting on the court this season, playing just 12 minutes over three games for Burgos in the ACB. Despite his inability to get on the floor, Dos Anjos remains an interesting prospect off of size alone. Standing 7’3” with a 9’6.5” standing reach, Dos Anjos is a massive human. It helps that he actually has some meat on his bones, with his most recent weigh-in placing him at 251 pounds. His mobility, natural touch, and imposing physical profile make him a player to watch, despite his lack of vertical explosion. Dos Anjos is more of a shot deterrent than a shot blocker, but it’s hard to imagine teams not being impressed by his physical package.
There are plenty of intriguing international prospects in this year’s class, and if the 2018 draft is like a normal year, there will likely be 10-15 foreigners drafted, and that’s before you count foreign-born players in the NCAA. That makes the group an important contingent to get to know, especially when a likely top-3 pick comes from overseas. While lacking first-round level depth, this class has many solid players who are potential options in the second round, beyond the ones listed on my top two teams.
Honorable Mentions: Rodions Kurucs (Barcelona II), Dino Radoncic (Real Madrid), Aleksa Radanov (FMP), Borisa Simanic (FMP), Karim Jallow (Bayern Muenchen), Tryggvi Hlinason (Valencia), Amine Noua (Villeurbanne), Olle Lundqvist (Jamtland Basket), Marko Simonovic (Siena)