London — Frenchman Ousmane Dieng has moved to Australia for a while to hone his talents. Nikola Jovic stayed in Serbia, his native country.
Both are expected to make it to the NBA. They are among the top international prospects for the draft that will take place this Thursday night.
Both are versatile 2.08-meter forwards, who just turned 19, after completing their first seasons as professionals.
Jovic was chosen as the top prospect in the ABA League, after his first full season with Belgrade’s Mega club, from which Nikola Jokic, the NBA’s Most Valuable Player, emerged.
Here’s a look at some of the top international players in the draft:
STRENGTHS: Multifaceted scorer with court vision and point guard capabilities. He’s averaging 11.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists this season, shooting 36.5% from 3-point range.
Jovic told The Associated Press that he had trained with the Houston Rockets and the San Antonio Spurs. As of Monday, the two teams had three first-round picks.
The Serb also practiced with Denver, (21st and 30th picks), Chicago (18th), Minnesota (19th), Milwaukee (24th), Miami (27th) and Golden State (28th).
CONCERNS: Jovic doesn’t have a good sprint start. There were also concerns about his strength, before bulking up to currently weigh 101 kilograms (224 pounds).
“I work on my whole body. Abdominal stability is really important to me,” said Jovic, who turned 19 this month.
Rafael Barlowe, director of scouting at the NBA Big Board, said Jovic is shaping up to be “an average defender in the league.” He added that putting him on a team where he fits will be key.
“He could end up in a bad situation like Deni Avdija (Washington), on a team where he doesn’t get a chance to handle the ball and gets stuck in a corner.
The svelte Frenchman bounced back from a slow start in Australia and gave glimpses of why he could be among the top picks in the draft.
STRENGTHS: Perimeter talent, playmaking potential and ability to defend in multiple positions. He averaged 8.9 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.1 assists per game.
His 3-point shooting percentage was less than 10% early. But during the last 12 games of the season he was up to 35%.
“I just needed to find my rhythm and keep working on my game,” he said.
Dieng worked with “a bunch” of teams but declined to say which ones.
“I can adapt to any team, because I’m very versatile, so I can do whatever the coach wants,” he said. “I work very hard, I have good vision and I can do everything on the court.”
CONCERNS: The constancy in the shot and corpulence. It would have to be strengthened. He weighs 215 pounds (97.5 kilograms), about 10 pounds (5 kilograms) more than he did at the beginning of the season, when he came to look lost.
“The gap between the French third division and the NBL is really big. Everything is faster and rougher, ”she acknowledged.
He added that it was “really good for him to play among former NBA players.
Some other international players with no experience in the United States:
– ISMAEL KAMAGATE: Center of Paris Basket. The 21-year-old Frenchman is averaging 11.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. He denied nine shots in a game against Roanne.
– KHALIFA DIOP: Senegalese pivot from Gran Canaria in the Spanish league. He averaged 6.1 points, 4.2 rebounds and 0.8 blocks per game.
— HUGO BESSON: 21-year-old point guard who played with Dieng on the New Zealand Breakers. The Frenchman averaged 13.9 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. He made 30.8% of his 3-point shots.
– GABRIELE PROCIDA: An athletic Italian who hit 38.3% of his three-pointers for Bologna.