Just like any other aspect of the NBA draft, there are good years and bad years as far as international players are concerned. Last year, for instance, no international players were selected in the lottery. But in 2011, there were four international players who didn’t play for a U.S. college selected in the lottery – Enes Kanter of Turkey (No. 3 to Utah), Jonas Valanciunas of Lithuania (No. 5 to Toronto), Jan Vesely of the Czech Republic (No. 6 to Washington) and Bismack Biyombo of Congo (No. 7 to Sacramento. This year likely will be more like 2011 as at least a couple of international players could be picked in the top 14, including Russian swingman Sergey Karasev, French center Rudy Gobert, and German point guard Dennis Schroeder. The international class did lose a bit of its luster when Croatian forward Dario Saric withdrew. He likely would have been the first European player taken. (For our purposes, the term "international'' refers to players who did not play in U.S. colleges, which excludes players such as UNLV's Anthony Bennett or Gonzaga's Kelly Olynyk, who are both Canadians, or Maryland's Alex Len, a Ukrainian, or Pittsburgh's Steven Adams, who is from New Zealand.) "I would say it's a good year for foreign players to be in this draft,'' ESPN's Fran Fraschilla said in a conference call last month. "I could look at my list right now and see the potential for nine different players going in the first round. "I see nine guys, and I also think this is a year where you can draft some of these guys and leave them right where they are in Europe and let them marinate a little bit more and not have to add them to your roster.'' Fraschilla likens Schroeder to Rajon Rondo, Brazilian center Lucas Nogueira to JaVale McGee, and Spanish guard Alex Abrines to Rudy Fernandez. But the biggest international man of mystery is Greece's Giannis Adetokunbo, a 19-year-old, 6-9, 210-pound swingman. His parents are Nigerians who immigrated to Greece. "He's very, very raw,'' Fraschilla said. "He's played basically high school basketball this year in a very poor Greek league. Some people have compared him to Nic Batum, that's not fair, because he dribbles the ball better than Nic, but he's nowhere near as experienced.
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NBA Draft 2013 will have a decidedly European flavor
Cleveland Plain Dealer | Jun 23