The last three MVPs are from Greece and Serbia (Giannis Antetokounmpo twice, Nikola Jokic), this year’s Defensive Player of the Year (Rudy Gobert) is from France, and three of the five players on this year’s All-NBA First Team are from the Balkans.
Let’s take a look at the top three international prospects who could be part of the next crop of stars.
Josh Giddey, PG (Australia)
- The 18-year-old will become the first NBA Academy graduate to be selected in the draft — and for good reason. Giddey was a guard his entire life. When he hit his growth spurt, his father/coach opted to keep him as a ball-handler, given his high basketball IQ and court vision. Pundits say Giddey is a triple-double threat with his passing ability and size. He might find his way into the top 10.
Alperen Sengun, PF/C (Turkey)
- The 19-year-old has the size and frame of a capable double-double big. He has professional experience playing against grown men, averaging 19.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks in one season with Besiktas of the Turkish Super League. Athleticism might be his biggest weakness.
Usman Garuba, PF (Spain)
- Garuba, 19, most likely fits the script of a modern-day small-ball center at 6’8”. His athleticism, explosiveness, and lankiness (7’4” wingspan) make him a threat in the pick-and-roll and as a rim protector. He played three seasons with Real Madrid as a backup big — don’t be surprised if he’s taken in the mid-20s.
Don’t sleep on these guys. They all have experience in the pros, and no one’s older than 19.