NBA prospect primer: International players

NBA prospect primer: International players
May 7, 2014, 3:30 pm


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BOSTON — The 2013 NBA draft was historical for the Boston Celtics, and it had nothing to do with the blockbuster deal they agreed to with Brooklyn, either.

With the No. 16 pick, Boston chose (and immediately traded) Brazilian teenager Lucas Nogueria, which was the first time they used a first-round pick to select an international player.

Boston made that pick for Dallas, which swapped its No. 13 pick (Kelly Olynyk) for Nogueria and a future second-round pick.

In next month's draft, the Celtics will have a pair of first-round picks and there's a chance that one - or possibly both - may be used to select international players.

Here's our list of the top 10 international prospects in this year's draft.

1. Dante Exum, PG, 6-foot-6, 185 pounds, Australia

Summary: Widely considered the best guard in this draft, Exum will play both backcourt spots in the NBA with the bulk of his time expected to be at the point. He has great court vision, understands how to take what the defense gives him. And with a 6-9 wing span and good lateral quickness, the potential is there for him to be a really good defender. However, he needs to improve his shooting as well as his shot selection. And it wouldn't hurt to add a few pounds, too. PROJECTED DRAFT POSITION: Top 5.

2. Dario Saric, SF, 6-10, 233, Croatia

Summary: For starters, you love his size and length, which gives you a few options as to where to play him on the floor. Because he's taller than most small forwards, Saric rebounds well from the position and has shown a good enough handle to initiate an offense from time to time. But his defense needs work, primarily because he's not quite strong enough to be a power forward and doesn't have the lateral quickness you would like to see in a full-time small forward. That, coupled with a shooting touch that needs work, has put him in that 'good, but not great' pile of potential draft picks. PROJECTED DRAFT POSITION: Late lottery, early teens of the first round

3. Jusuf Nurkic, C, 6-11, 280, Bosnia

Summary: This 19-year-old has really come on strong of late, showing a nice touch around the basket. And despite being so young, Nurkic isn't afraid to mix it up with more seasoned players, either. But he's still considered inconsistent in terms of his focus and, like most big men at all levels of play, he's a bit foul prone as well. PROJECTED DRAFT POSITION: Early teens, early 20s of first round.

4. Clint Capela, F, 6-10, 222, Switzerland

Summary: Maybe the best athlete among the international draft prospects, Capela is excellent in transition and in finishing with authority around the rim. And with a 7-4 wing span, he has the potential to defend at a high level even at times when he's not in the right position. But he needs to get stronger as well as develop one or two offensive moves to round out his game. PROJECTED DRAFT POSITION: Late teens, early 20s of first round

5. Bogdan Bogdanovic, SG, 6-6, 205, Serbia

Summary: Physically speaking, he is the prototype for what you expect to see in an NBA shooting guard. Although shooting is his strength, he has shown improved court vision because of injuries on his Partizan NIS Belgrade team, which forced him to play some at the point. However, he struggles handling intense pressure from the defense and does not do a good job of creating his own shot. That has a lot to do with his lack of lateral quickness. PROJECTED DRAFT POSITION: Late first round, early second

6. Kristaps Porzingis, C, 7-0, 220, Latvia

Summary: The skills of this 18-year-old (not-so-)big man are undeniable. He can handle the ball better than most 7-footers, and caught the eye of many when he scored 20 points against a Real Madrid team that's loaded with NBA-caliber talent. But he needs to add quite a bit of weight, so any team selecting him isn't counting on him to play much, if at all, next season. PROJECTED DRAFT POSITION: Late first round, early second.

7. Walter Taveres, C, 7-3, 260, Gran Canaria

Summary: A relatively newcomer to the game of basketball (he didn't start playing until 2010), Taveres had put his name in last year's NBA draft (and wisely withdrew) with the goal being to simply get on the NBA's radar. Yes, Walter, they know who you are now. Physical strength, post moves, rebounding . . . the list is lengthy as to what he needs to improve upon.  He readily admits he has a lot to learn, but you can't teach 7-3 or that ridiculously long 7-9 wing span of his, either. PROJECTED DRAFT POSITION: Early second round.

8. Artem Klimenko, C,  7-1, 228, Russia

Summary: A true sleeper in this year's draft, Klimenko is at his best when in transition, which is where most of his scoring comes from.  He plays in Russia's second division, so there are questions as to whether his skills can translate against better competition. And despite being 7-1, he doesn't have much of a post-up game. PROJECTED DRAFT POSITION: Second round.

9. Nikola Jokic, C, 6-11, 253, Serbia

Summary: Another international teen with size, this 19-year-old big man actually has the kind of bulk that, physically speaking, gives him a shot of actually helping an NBA team out sooner rather than later. Having grown up playing the point, Jokic has a more fluid movement about his play than most big men. Despite his size, Jokic's rebounding needs work as well as his understanding of how to defend. PROJECTED DRAFT POSITION: Second round.

10. Vasilije Micic, PG, 6-5, 188, Serbia\

Summary: He plays with a great amount of confidence (or cockiness if you're trying to guard him), displaying excellent court vision which is what you expect from a 6-5, pass-first point guard. But like many great passers, he tends to pass up a good share of good shot attempts that at times puts his teammates in a tougher spot to score. Whoever selects him would probably plan to keep him overseas for another year or two. PROJECTED DRAFT STATUS: Second round or undrafted.