Jovic, Dieng highlight international prospects in NBA draft

LONDON (AP) – France’s Ousmane Dieng moved to Australia for a season to hone his skills. Nikola Jovic stayed at home in Serbia.

Both are expected to end up in the NBA, however, as they are among the top international prospects in Thursday night’s draft.

Both are versatile 6-foot-10 wings, having recently turned 19 after completing their first professional season.

Dieng played for the New Zealand Breakers in Australia’s National Basketball League as part of their Next Stars program, becoming a hotspot for NBA prospects. Jovic was voted as the top prospect in the ABA League after his first full season for Belgrade club Mega, reigning NBA MVP Nikola Jokic.

Have a look at some of the top international players in the draft:

jovi

Strengths: Multidimensional scorer with court vision and playing skills. He averaged 11.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists this season and shot 36.5% from 3-point range.

Jovic told The Associated Press that he had worked for the Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs – as of Monday both teams had three first-round picks – Denver Nuggets (21st and 30th picks), Chicago Bulls (No. ), the Minnesota Timberwolves (No. 19), and the Milwaukee Bucks (24th pick). He also scheduled a workout with the Miami Heat, who have the 27th pick, and the champion Golden State Warriors (number 28).

“My basketball IQ is really good, I’m really good at shooting, passing passes too. Those are things I can translate to the NBA right away,” Jovic said.

Concerns: Jovic doesn’t have an explosive first move. There were also concerns about his strength, entering the 200-pound season, but he has grown and now weighs 224 pounds.

“I’m working my whole body. Core stability is really important to me,” said Jovic, who turns 19 this month.

Rafael Barlow, director of scouting at the NBA Big Board, said Jovic projects as “a league-average defender” and added that the right fit will be key: “He ends up in a bad position on a team like Denny Avdija (Washington Wizards).” where he does not have a chance to handle the ball and is stuck in a corner.

dieng

The slender Frenchman recovered from a slow start in Australia to show why he could be a potential lottery pick.

Strength: Perimeter skill, ability to play, can defend multiple positions. He averaged 8.9 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game. His 3-point shooting percentage was in the starting single digits, but it was 35% in the final 12 games of the season.

“I just had to find my rhythm and work on my game.

Dieng worked with “a lot” of teams but declined to be named.

“I can fit into any team because I’m very versatile, so I can do whatever the coach wants me to do,” he said. “I’m very hardworking and really versatile with good eyesight and can do everything on the floor.”

Concerns: Shooting continuity and frames. He needs to add bulk. At 215 pounds, he’s about 10 pounds heavier than he was early in the season, when he sometimes looked lost.

“The difference between France and the third division in the NBL is really big. Everything is faster and everything is more physical,” he said, adding that playing between former NBA players “was really cool for me.”

Some other internationals who have no US experience:

— Ismael Kamgate: 6-11, 230 pounds center for Paris Basket. The 21-year-old Frenchman averaged 11.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. He dismissed nine shots in a game against Ronan. French League All-Star.

– Khalifa DIOP: Latest Senegalese big man, 7-foot-1, 240-pound center for Gran Canaria in Spain. He averaged 6.1 points, 4.2 rebounds and 0.8 blocks per game.

– Hugo Besson: The 21-year-old shooting guard played with Dieng at the New Zealand Breakers. The 6-4 Frenchman averaged 13.9 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. 30.8% of shots from 3-point range.

– GABRIELE PROCIDA: An athletic 6-7 Italian who shot 38.3% from the back of the arc for Bologna.

looking ahead

France’s 7-foot-3 Victor Vembanyama may have been this year’s top pick – possibly last year as well. The 18-year-old will finally be eligible in 2023.

With his size and skills – ball-handling, shooting, rim safety – Vembanyama is considered a generational genius. He finished last July with 22 points, eight rebounds and eight blocks against a United States team that included Chet Holmgren in the final of the FIBA ​​Under-19 World Cup. He plays for the French team ASVEL owned by Tony Parker.

“If he maximizes all his gifts,” said Barlow, “he could easily be one of the best players of his generation.”

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