Giddey, Sengun, Garuba among NBA international prospects

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It wasn’t that long ago that 6-foot-8 Aussie point guard Josh Giddey’s goal was to play in the NBL – not the NBA.

The Melbourne native had his country’s National Basketball League in mind when it comes to career goals, but his game has kept improving – and ultimately his goals too.

“I was good at basketball, but I just didn’t think I would be in the position I am in now,” Giddey said. “My goal was to be a good NBL player. The NBA has always been a dream, but it only came true probably six to twelve months ago.

Giddey, 18, is part of another round of intriguing international prospects who are expected to hear their names during the NBA Draft on Thursday. The other selections scheduled for the first round are Usman Garuba, a powerful center / forward from Spain, and Alperen Sengun, a center from Turkey.

Some NBA fans may not yet know their names, as has been the case with other gems from the international player pool in recent years such as Luka Doncic (3rd overall in 2018), Nikola Jokic (41st in total in 2014) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (15th overall in 2013).

Giddey, considered one of the best assistants in the draft, turned down college offers and instead chose to play last season for the Adelaide 36ers.

Seems like it was a good decision.

In 28 games, he averaged 10.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, 7.6 assists and 3.3 turnovers per game.

“I thought playing adult males at an early age would speed up my development,” Giddey said in an online media session before the draft.

He also credits the NBA Global Academy with developing his game and put it on the radar with scouts.

Here’s a look at some of the top international prospects:

JOSH GIDDEY

With the ball in his hands, he always seems in control and makes big decisions.

STRENGTHS: He weighs 205 pounds and isn’t super explosive like the other prospects, but makes up for it with, as they say, a high basketball IQ. “I’m not the type to get noticed. I am a team playmaker, ”he said. “My game is a bit like you see it. Passing is my greatest strength … in the NBA because the field is so much more spaced and extended – it’s going to allow me to step into the paint and do more reads, whether it’s scoring on the read myself or to hit my teammates. “

CONCERNS: One hit on Giddey is his shot, which is a work in progress. He shot 43% overall and just 29.3% off the 3-point line in a fairly small sample (29 of 99 at long range). He admits he’s had a slow start to the NBL season.

“It took me a little while to find my bearings,” he said. “I think shooting at me is a bit of a stretch. I started the year so badly that it was difficult for me to catch up on percentage.

USMAN GARUBA

Giddey didn’t travel to Japan for the Olympics, but Usman Garuba is playing the Tokyo Games for Spain alongside Pau Gasol, Ricky Rubio and company.

STRENGTHS: With its 6-foot-8, 230-pound frame, defense is one of Garuba’s calling cards. The Real Madrid center of power / striker only turned 19 in March and already has two full seasons under his belt in the highly respected Spanish National League and EuroLeague,

CONCERNS: He averaged 5.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per game in the Spanish league last season, with slightly lower averages in EuroLeague. He averaged 7.2 rebounds per game in the EuroLeague playoffs. But he showed constant improvement. His EuroLeague averages last season were 4 points, 4 rebounds, 0.7 blocks and 0.6 steals in just over 16 minutes per game – good enough to win the ‘Rising Star’ award as voted by the coaches. .

“For me that was one of the most impressive things – watching what he was doing in the EuroLeague qualifiers against Efes – changing those guards is tricky,” said Will Voigt, who coached. in Germany last season with Bonn. “Not only did he hold on, but he did plays. Seeing these flashes at this age, at this level, is quite impressive. He can keep 1 to 5.

ALPEREN SENGUN

Alperen Sengun is a powerful 6-foot-9, 240-pound center / forward.

STRONG POINTS: Its positive side. He just turned 19 on Sunday, which means he was just 18 when he won the Turkish League MVP title last season with Besiktas. He averaged 18.6 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 34 league games in 2020-21. Sengun has excellent footwork, a low-post range of motion, finishes skillfully with both hands and is a good passer.

CONCERNS: He’s not a good long-range shooter and he lacks speed, especially defensively.

BELGIUM CONNECTION

Belgium is a hotspot for waffles – usually not for NBA prospects. Vrenz Bleijenbergh and Amar Sylla hope to change this. Bleijenbergh had flown a little under the radar, but not anymore. The 6-foot-10 point guard posted his pre-draft workouts on his social media accounts – more than a dozen. For Antwerp last season, the 20-year-old averaged 9.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists per game and shot 33.5% from distance. In tweets on Saturday, he cited draft day and said a surprise was in store, assignment: “I can’t wait for the day when I prove that all the people who doubted me are wrong.” Sylla is another Belgium-based prospect who could find his place on an NBA roster. The 6-foot-9 forward is from Senegal and played for Ostend last season.

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