Overseas prospects to watch out for in their rookie year

It’s that time again. The NBA Finals have come and gone and the Toronto Raptors have been crowned the champions. Next up is the build-up of excitement and anticipation which begins with the NBA draft. Thursday night, all 30 teams gathered around to pick from some of the best basketball players the world has to offer. Most prospects are household names as many fans have seen their names during this last year’s NCAA tournament, but there are some hidden gems from countries overseas. Let’s take a look at a few of them that heard their names called this year.

Sekuo Doumbouya (15th overall pick – Detroit Pistons)

The first prospect to keep an eye on is nineteen-year-old Sekuo Doumbouya. This 6-foot-9, 230 pound two-way forward played for Limoges in Frances pro league A. Sekuo is a raw talent but has tons of athletic ability. He knows how to position his long and lanky body in the post to create space from the defender. Sekou doesn’t shy away from contact. He can finish well but is limited in his post moves. His quickness is more suited for a slasher role. He needs to mature and develop more moves in the post. He does have a fluid jump shot and can stroke it from long range but needs to be more consistent.

He can space the floor which is a key component in today’s game but needs to improve on ball handling because he can get sloppy at times. In transition, he can quickly move up and down the floor and slam it down with great authority. Defensively he is shot blocker and can guard on the perimeter. Sekou’s lateral quickness can keep anyone in front of him. His game is comparable to a young Serge Ibaka.

Gogo Bitadze (18th overall pick – Indiana Pacers)

Gogo Bitadze is an interesting prospect. A 6-foot-11 center with a 7-foot-2 wingspan from Sagarejo, Georgia. He played for the Mega Bemax in Serbia. He has a fluid consistent stroke as he shot 31 percent from three and 54 percent from the field in his last year with the Serbian club. He excels at setting screens for his teammates. From those screens, he likes to roll to the basket with a strong finish or he can knock down a mid-range jumper. One of his weaknesses is perimeter defense.  He doesn’t have the athletic lateral quickness to keep up with quick shifty guards. He also loses focus and is not very good on switches. He makes up for that with his shot blocking capabilities where he averages 2.3 a game.  He also cleans up the glass with 6.4 rebounds a game. His game is most comparable to a young Dirk Nowitzki.

Luka Samanic (19th overall – San Antonio Spurs)

Luka Samanic is a very talented individual. He is a 6-foot-11 230-pound power forward who has tons of upside on the offensive end. He played for Olimpija Ljubljana. He only has one year of professional experience so he still needs to mature and find his game. He tends to lose focus during games and disappear on the court. He could also bulk up his thin frame this offseason before the regular season gets underway.

On the court, he seems very fluid and in transition he can finish with contact at the rim. His shot is also very smooth and can hit from long range.  Along with his shooting, he has shown that he has a reliable post up game where his footwork allows him to use several moves against defenders. He also has passing ability unlike other power forwards. Defensively he can close out on three-point shooters very well. He struggles with switches on pick and roll and has mental lapses on that end of the floor.

As you can see overseas players are also good options for NBA teams. Players in Euro leagues have played against tough and skilled players that can translate to the NBA. These three prospects games’ still needs work but have enough talent to be stars in the league someday.

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