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Who are next generation of overseas NBA stars?

   Who are next generation of overseas NBA stars?

October 23, 2020

Stars from Europe and beyond are beginning to dominate the NBA. The 'Greek Freak', Giannis Antetokounmpo, has won back-to-back MVP awards, joining an elite group of players to have the prize in successive seasons.

Luka Doncic will certainly win an MVP award at some stage of his career, having blown away the league in his first two seasons. The Slovenian has matched records produced only by LeBron James and Michael Jordan – highlighting his potential to become one of the all-time greats and certainly the best NBA player to have emerged from outside of the United States.

The 2020 Draft will provide the next generation of talent from Europe to attempt to secure a berth on NBA rosters. There are a number of intriguing prospects that could be selected in the first round and even the top 10. We’ll now look at three of these players and where they could possibly land.

Killian Hayes

The Frenchman has been touted in the top five of the 2020 Draft due to his excellence on the court for Ulm in the Basketball Bundesliga. Hayes was part of the France team that won a silver medal in the FIBA Under-17 Basketball World Cup in 2018, losing out to the States in the final. He was one of the stars of the World Cup, being selected in the All-Tournament team alongside players from the USA that will be vying with Hayes for selection in the Draft, including Vernon Carey Jr.

At 6ft 5in, Hayes has a good size for playing point guard, and was productive for Ulm in the EuroCup by averaging 12.8 points and 6.2 assists per game. Teams of the ilk of the Chicago Bulls have a reported interest in the 19-year-old. The Bulls have a litany of issues that need to be addressed before they can be counted among the favourites but drafting Hayes would certainly help in the long-term. Miami Heat are a team they can use as an example as they patiently rebuilt and they have shocked many with their deep playoff run. Some teams are likely to be undervalued next season by the main bookmakers found at sites such as Legal Betting as there is usually a surprise entrant into the post-season, so they could be worth a punt on the futures market to reach the playoffs.

It would be too much for Hayes to turn around in his rookie season, but playing alongside Zach LaVine could be blessing for Hayes to slowly develop. Few players hit the ground running like Doncic, but a steady progression like another French point guard in the form of Tony Parker would suit Hayes and the Bulls just fine.

Deni Avdija

Outside of Omri Casspi there have been few Israeli players to have hit the heights in the NBA. Casspi was selected 23rd overall in the 2009 Draft and has had a solid career in the NBA with spells at seven teams, including the Golden State Warriors. Avdija could eclipse his compatriot by being drafted in the top 10 and perhaps even sooner than that with the Cleveland Cavaliers linked with the power forward. The 19-year-old was named MVP of the Israeli League for his exploits in 2020 and also earned the FIBA U20 European Championship MVP last year.

Avdija has averaged 13.5 points per game for Maccabi Tel Aviv last season, but the standard of competition will be raised dramatically in the NBA. The 19-year-old does have an impressive skill set and would be a fine complement to any team, but once again it would be a surprise to see him have a Doncic-like impact. Although should he land with the Cavaliers – then Avdija may have a lot of starting time in his rookie year.

Theo Maledon

The 19-year-old has enjoyed an extremely productive career in France with ASVEL, becoming a Pro Champion in 2019 as well as the French Basketball Cup Final MVP. Therefore, he has proven credentials at performing under pressure. Maledon was on the same Under-17 side with Hayes that was beaten by the States in 2018, although he is not quite the same standard of point guard at the moment as his international team-mate.

Maledon’s stats are solid without being spectacular and will have to take his time to further develop his shooting skills, averaging 7.4 points per game. To progress into a starting point guard in the NBA, he will need to improve those levels as well as his assists. Reports suggest that he could land in the range between the 15th and 20th pick in the first round of the NBA Draft. That would be a sweet spot to land in to play for a solid team where there will not be the pressure of having to make an immediate impact.

The three players have tremendous potential and we will wait to see whether that can translate at the highest level.

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