TREVISO, Italy — The three-day adidas Eurocamp begins Friday as part of the return of a strong international presence for the NBA Draft. Six to eight players without NCAA experience may be picked in the first round on June 27.
A year after a single prospect trained entirely outside North America was taken among the top 30 – French shooting guard Evan Fournier to the Nuggets – the new wave comes at a particularly opportune time. The thin class from United States colleges has created openings for the international products. Some teams may prefer developing a player overseas for another year or two over an American with limited potential.
“I get the sense a lot of teams don’t love their picks because they don’t love the draft,” one executive said. “This is the year, as you ask around, that a lot more teams are saying, ‘Yeah, we’d be glad to move our pick.’ Because of that, it seems they’d rather go with a player who can stay in Europe and maybe turn into something eventually over a player they don’t think will ever be much. That’s just short of getting rid of it.”
What this group lacks in the lottery impact of the 2011 class of Jonas Valanciunas, Jan Vesely and Bismack Biyombo – and Enes Kanter, who attended Kentucky without playing for the Wildcats – it makes up for in depth. Dennis Schroeder from Germany, Dario Saric of Croatia and Rudy Gobert from France are headed for the second half of the lottery or the teens in the current projections. From there, Sergey Karasev of Russia, Giannis Adetokunbo from Greece and, probably, Lucas Nogueira of Brazil are in the first round, with the possibility of other bubble picks getting the guaranteed money of the top 30 if NBA front offices continue to be underwhelmed with the American options.
The influence expands if products from outside North America via U.S. colleges are also considered. Alex Len (Maryland/Ukraine) will be a top-10 pick barring a late setback while Steven Adams (Pittsburgh/ New Zealand) has a chance for the lottery and Gorgui Dieng (Louisville/Senegal) will be in the first round.
Gobert and Nogueira are among 46 scheduled prospects who will play in front of dozens of representatives from NBA and international teams at the La Ghirada complex about 20 miles north of Venice, although Gobert said he will participate in only one of the three days. That’s not a problem for scouts and executives who have come from the United States and Toronto – Gobert was at the Chicago pre-draft camp and has a full schedule to visit cities around North America to audition for individual clubs. Second-round possibilities, most notably Nemanja Nedovic of Croatia and Livio Jean Charles are also here.
Traditionally, other top prospects will hold individual workouts for NBA front offices without joining in official activities. Plus, some may have commitments to national teams or a club still in the playoffs.