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2012 NBA Draft: The Least Intriguing Group of International Prospects Since 1995

Kostas Papanikolaou may be a second-round steal based on his high-energy, mistake-free game. As a 19-year-old against the Cavs in a 2009 exhibition game, he scored 7 points on 3/4 shooting, grabbed 3 boards, and blocked a shot.It’s been a really long time since we haven’t had an international prospect taken in the top-20 of the draft, 17 years to be exact. Not every draft since then was like last summer’s run (Kanter, Valanciunas, Vesely, and Biyombo were 4 of the top-7 selections), but in nearly every draft over that time period at least one international player with no US college experience went in the lottery, and it’s been since 1995 that none had enough pre-draft buzz to get selected in the top-20.

Well that run is going to change tonight as Frenchman Evan Fournier is widely expected to be the only international pick in the first round, and by all reports, very late in the first round. After the 6-feet-7 wing, a handful of international prospects are filling their requisite spots in the middle and end of the second round draft boards, but no casual fans know any of their names or anything about them. I can’t even say that I know too much beyond the scouting reports available online, their stats, a few highlight clips, and what I’ve seen in the usual games with internationals that are easily watchable (e.g. Nike Hoop Summit).

All that being said, here’s the little I do know about what’s expected from each of the likely drafted international prospects and what their stats verify.


Evan Fournier

SG/SF, France
Expected draft position: 23-30
Experts are saying: can create his own shot and is aggressive doing so…effective scorer in both the pick-and-roll and isolation situations…strong ball handler with good body control when driving…makes smart passes…trouble with outside jumper…rushes bad shots, has sub-par shot selection…inconsistent, and often poor, effort on defense…too slow to defend quick guards…good improvement recently
Statistical notes: Fournier certainly scored at a decent clip in France’s top league, averaging 14 ppg at 19 years old, but he shot 43% overall and only 28% from distance (plus only 2-for-8 in 2011’s Hoop Summit), so word of his poor outside shot and shot selection seem to be true. He’s averaged essentially the same amount of assists as turnovers over the last two seasons (2.2/2.2 and 0.7/0.8), so that’s not good for his passing, and his rebound totals are absurdly low (3.2 rpg in 26 min/gm). The one and only area he’s excelled statistically has been steals, averaging 1.5 last year and 0.7 in 14 mins/gm the season before. It is noteworthy that he increased his free throw attempts significantly last year: 3.9/gm (75%).


Kostas Papanikolaou

SF, Greece
Expected draft position: mid-second round
Experts are saying: good fundamentals and understanding of the game…fantastic effort and energy…doesn’t create shots for himself, but is active away from the ball and finds good spots and cuts well to be an efficient scorer…his hustle and smarts make him a solid defender and rebounder…mistake-proof role player who comes up big in big games, but will never be great
Statistical notes: Papanikalaou kind of blew up as a prospect just a month ago when he went 5-for-5 on 3’s while scoring a Euroleague career-high 18 points in the championship win. His stats for the past two years have been very consistent, scoring a ho-hum 6-8 ppg, but shooting 50% overall, split 60% inside the arc and about 35% behind it, so it does appear he only takes what he’s given and does quite well with it. His rebounding has been decent for a SF, averaging about 4 rpg in 20 mins/gm. The only other numbers that stand out are his fairly high FTA/FGA (2.3/5.3 this past season), which confirms that he’s willing to initiate contact when operating down low.


Thornike Shengelia

PF/SF, Georgia
Expected draft position: mid-second round
Experts are saying: high-energy forward who plays tough and strong inside…mature and intelligent scoring abilities…likes to drive on slower PF’s and initiates contact for free throws…capable but not-good-yet jumper…“aggressive” and “tough” show up over and over in everything you read about him…very good rebounder… not particularly good defender on SF’s outside or PF’s inside…athletic by European hoops standards
Statistical notes: Shengelia didn’t do particularly well in the Belgium league last year; his 8.4 ppg in 18 min/gm don’t look any better when you consider his 44% FG or 29% 3FG rates. His rebounding was good at 4.6 rpg. His stats were almost exactly the same in the Euro tournament this past year, but those 3.4 fouls/gm don’t bode well for trying to defend NBA players. Huge stats in Division B U-20 Euro Championships in 2011 (30 ppg, 12 rpg, 2.3 bpg).


Furkan Aldemir

PF, Turkey
Expected draft position: mid- to late-second round
Experts are saying: amazing rebounder…uses strength and great motor to get after the ball…only attempts shots near the hoop, but will gladly power through contact…no real offensive game other than finishing on pick-and-rolls…poor defender, too slow to guard SF’s or even quicker PF’s, and too foul prone inside…will certainly have to wait out his large Turkish contract
Statistical notes: Aldemir averaged 16 rpg in 35 min/gm at the U-20 Euro Championships in 2011, and his 6.5 rpg in 21 min/gm in the Turkish league are also great. Other than that, he makes 60% of his buckets for 7-8 ppg, and he certainly gets to the line a lot for his low-usage (3.3 FTA/5.0 FGA). His 2.5 fouls/gm in league play and 2.3 fouls/gm in 17 mins/gm in Euroleague also confirm his high-foul nature.


Tomas Satoransky

SG/PG, Czech Republic
Expected draft position: mid- to late-second round
Experts are saying: decent athlete at 6-feet-7, but overall strength and quickness aren’t good…lacks aggression both as a scorer and creator…very inconsistent jumper…solid ball handling and passing…willing but unspectacular defender
Statistical notes: Satoransky’s stats the past few years in Spain’s ACB league and the Eurocup are fairly inconsistent, but there’s enough to tell some basic patterns. It’s not uncommon to see his assist totals barely outweigh his turnovers (1.4/1.4 this year, 2.4/1.9 last year), and he’s regularly shot around 45% overall. His 3-point shooting has ranged from 27% (this year in ACB) to 44% (last year’s Eurocup). The only other items of note are his very low number of FTA’s (1.3 to 1.7/gm) and high foul numbers (2.1 to 2.6/gm).


Leon Radosevic

PF/C, Croatia
Expected draft position: late-second round or undrafted
Experts are saying: decent size at 6-feet-10, 240 pounds…has good motor and basketball IQ…low usage offensive player, but very efficient and polished…lack of strength gives him trouble both rebounding and defending inside
Statistical notes: Radosevic’s role has lessened significantly since signing with the Italian league after two years in the Adriatic (30 min/gm down to 10). Despite that, he’s consistently hit around 55% of his shots and is certainly underwhelming on the boards (2.0 rpg in 10.5 min/gm in Italy, 5.1 rpg in 28 min/gm the year before). Blocks and free throw attempts have stayed pretty low over time.


Nihad Djedovic

SG/SF, Bosnia
Expected draft position: late-second round or undrafted
Experts are saying: great job creating his own offense due to good ball-handling and smart change-of-direction and pace dribbling (often compared to Manu Ginobili in this regard)…finishes well around the rim…average 3-point shooter at best…turnover prone, often trying to do too much…shows energy and athleticism as a good wing defender…
Statistical notes: Djedovic has played all over the place recently, including Spain’s ACB league, Italy, and Turkey. He consistently scores around 11-12 ppg, connecting on a very good 50-55% of his shots inside the arc and a highly variable 25-35% outside it. He also consistently has more turnovers than assists, with his 2.8/gm in Italy last year showing quite poorly against his 1.6 apg and 9.0 FGA/gm.



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