I will now continue my look at the top international prospects in this year’s draft with numbers 6 through 10 on my list:
1) Alexey Shved – Shved, a 6’6 Russian point guard, has not developed as many thought he would just 2 years ago, though it is tough to underestimate a 6’6 true point guard. He is a very effective perimeter shooter, with good range and consistent form. He has the ability to shoot off the dribble and uses screens well. He is not as effective going to the rim, and he tends to shy away from contact as he makes his move. He is an above average ball-handler and passer, and his height gives him an added advantage seeing the court. Defensively, he is better suited to covering shooting guards, as his lack of speed hinders him against smaller, quicker point guards. He uses his long arms well to disrupt passing lanes and contest shots. If he can add some muscle and adjust to the NBA style game, some team is going to get a steal in the draft.
2) Nemanja Bjelica – Bjelica, a 6’10 Serbian forward, has made a rapid movement up team’s draft lists as of late. He is a versatile player, capable of playing both forward positions and center in a pinch. He works best when the offense runs through him as he is capable as both a scorer and a passer. While not exceptionally quick, he does a good job finding open spots on the floor. He is not as good in one-on-one situations and will, more often than not, settle for jump shots. Defensively, he needs to improve his footwork, especially when guarding in open space. He has improved as a help defender, and, while not a great leaper, times his jumps well to block shots. While I enjoy watching him play, I think he will be one of the players who would have the toughest time adjusting to the physical nature of the NBA game.
3) Miroslav Raduljica – Raduljica, a 7 foot Serbian center, is one of the more polished international big men I have seen in a long time. Offensively, he is very effective playing with his back to the basket, including a repertoire of NBA-level post moves. He has also become more effective as a face-up player, including the ability to consistently hit 15 foot jumpers. His biggest issue is he is timid on the floor that you sometimes forget he is a seven-footer. While his post moves are good, he prefers to shoot fade-away and turnaround jumpers instead of attacking the basket. His rebounding also needs improvement for his size. His lack of aggressiveness also carries over to the defensive end, where smaller men seem to have too easy a time posting up on him. If he can ever get that mean streak in him to come out and combine it with his natural ability, he could be a very special player.
4) Mindaugas Kuzminskas – Kuzminskas, a 6’8 Lithuanian forward, has emerged as a new name in this year’s draft discussions. From the little I have seen of him, he is an effective perimeter shooter, though he still needs to improve his ability in open space. Defensively, he does a good enough job both on and off the ball, though he sometimes struggles with his positioning. As soon as I see more of him, I will update this blurb.
5) Pablo Aguilar – Aguilar, a 6’9 Spanish forward, is still a year or so away from being a NBA ready player, though the raw skills are apparent. He is athletic for his size and is very active on both ends of the floor. He has a good perimeter shot with decent range and consistent form. Defensively, he needs to improve his footwork and agility, and add some muscle to be able to guard NBA level power forwards. While he has a lot of potential, he is definitely and draft-and-store prospect.
While this is not a great crop of international players, there is some good potential in the group and we may see one or two of these players becoming NBA All-Stars.