On June 22nd, 58 players (due to NBA team suspensions) will become part of the NBA, a dream of a lifetime for most young players. On the international front, Victor Wembanyama is the clear number 1 option, already preparing to be a San Antonio Spur. Bilal Coulibaly has developed this season into a clear lottery pick, with a green room invitation already. But there are a lot of players that will hear their name after the lottery and into the second round. We try to look at the best ones from the international class and those who could become NBA players next week.

James Nnaji

Stats (per 36): 14.0 PTS | 71.6% 2FG | 48.6% FT | 8.2 REB (3.3 OREB) | 1.1 AST | 0.6 STL | 2.7 TOV | 2.2 BLK | 17.7% USG

A defense-first prospect, James Nnaji has the body to be impactful at the NBA level and the defensive intelligence to do it now. At 6’11 (with a whopping 7’4 wingspan), it’s his movement, hip flexibility and lateral quickness that mostly impresses. Although not someone who can defend perimeter players for large stretches at the moment, Nnaji has the ability to switch at times and force tough shots at the rim or kick outs. His interior presence as a shot deterer, on or off the ball, make him a good option to have on your back line. You can’t also forget his constant pressure on the ball and quick instincts.

His offense, on the other hand, is very much a work in progress. Nnaji will enter the NBA as a rim-runner, screener and rebounder with not much else to add. His speed allows him to beat his man down the court and get easy baskets at the rim and his screening, with a guard with high gravity, will give him some easy baskets, but his finishing leaves some to be desired, especially against contact. Nnaji is projected to be picked at the end of the 1st round and could help some contenders on the defensive end, although he may need some time to be a solid option.

Malcolm Cazalon

Stats (per 36): 17.0 PTS | 57.1% 2FG | 32.6% 3FG | 79.2% FT | 4.2 REB | 3.8 AST | 2.5 STL | 2.7 TOV | 0.3 BLK | 23.4% USG

Cazalon is coming off his best season yet since he moved to Mega. A 12.9 points-per-game scorer, he improved his usage to 23.4% as he became one of the main ball-handlers for the Serbian club. But that came at the expense of his efficiency, both on twos and threes. His 3-point attempts have gone up, but that’s because there are more pull-up attempts, which really isn’t a strong part of his game, as opposed to his spot up attempts, where he shows to be more efficient. As his ball-handling duties went up, so did his pick and roll repetitions. Cazalon isn’t a primary initiator but can still attack off picks, going to his left, where he’ll either stop on a dime or get all the way to the rim. He can also find shooters when the defense collapses, but struggled a bit more when it came to connecting with the roller. Although Cazalon can score on all three-levels, none of them is his speciality or something he can go to constantly.

Defensively, he is mostly a roamer, reading passing lanes to get steals and easy points. Works better within a well-crafted system, where everyone knows how to defend at a good level. On the ball, he can stay in front of guards and use his size to create problems, although he can get disoriented and beaten by quicker and more skilled players with the ball in their hands. Cazalon projects to be picked late into the second round.

Nadir Hifi

Stats (per 36): 20.1 PTS | 57.0% 2FG | 35.8% 3FG | 85.4% FT | 3.5 REB | 3.6 AST | 1.5 STL | 2.5 TOV | 0.1 BLK | 25.2% USG

One of the biggest risers in the last few weeks and with a great showing at Adidas Eurocamp, Nadir Hifi is one of many French players in this draft. A pace pusher, whether he has the ball or not, Hifi looks to get his team some easy points in transition. Kind of a microwave scorer, he is a score-first guard that will look for every opportunity to isolate and get his shot up, usually from outside. His side-step and stepback threes give him a big advantage when trying to create space (InStat has him at 52% on stepback 3s). His low center of gravity also allows him to quickly cut corners on pick and rolls or quick drives, getting by defenders to finish inside. Hifi is a bit prone to tunnel vision when he has the ball and looking for his shot, but is able to find colleagues when the defense keys in on him.

His size at the NBA, along with his length, is less than ideal and that will be something teams can explore. There’s space to improve of course, especially at his age, little details of his defense so he doesn’t become someone teams look to attack. More aggressiveness on the ball and better body positioning to fight off screens will probably be the first items on the table. His attention to rotations and quicker decisions off the ball will also be key to survive the NBA, especially at his size. Hifi is projected to go in the 2nd round and be stashed in Europe, to represent Paris Basketball.

Rayan Rupert

Stats (per 36): 13.4 PTS | 40.4% 2FG | 31.3% 3FG | 71.6% FT | 4.8 REB | 1.6 AST | 1.5 STL | 2.1 TOV | 0.3 BLK | 20.1% USG

Fluctuating through the year between the lottery and the end of the first round, teams will be looking at Rupert as a steal wherever he falls to. A 6’6 wing with a 7’3 wingspan who can do the things he does on the offensive end will always be enticing. Rupert gets to the rim at will, using one or two quick dribble moves to get by his defender and then his long strides will do the rest. Despite being right-handed, most of his drives will have him going left, trying to finish above or around defenders. He doesn’t have the strength to withstand contact at the rim yet. Mostly a scorer, Rupert will look to get his shot off as a first option, playing off the ball, but he can find teammates with good vision when pressured. As a shooter, even if he’s not a knockdown outside scorer, his 35% on the year on catch and shoot situations – albeit at 1.5 attempts a game – is a promising sign of a player who can make defenses pay if they leave him open.

Defensively, his movement and length impress right away. He can put pressure constantly and force attackers to pick up their dribble or quickly pass. Rupert gambles a bit on the defensive side, trying to guess the offensive player’s mind and go for steals, which can leave his team in disadvantage, but that’s part of getting a player who puts constant pressure on ball handlers. More than that, he shows good recovery time and is able to bother shots at the rim due to his physical attributes. Struggles a bit when switched onto bigger and stronger players, tries to negate entry passes but just doesn’t have the necessary strength.

Tom Digbeu

Stats (per 36): 22.1 PTS | 56.4% 2FG | 30.6% 3FG | 85.3% FT | 5.4 REB | 4.3 AST | 1.5 STL | 3.6 TOV | 0.8 BLK | 27.0% USG

Digbeu’s experience in the NBA G-League was short-lived, as he returned to Europe after just one game, to play in the French 2nd Division. He’s an enticing prospect for the future, acting as both a primary or secondary initiator, the last one fitting him best at this moment. Has good burst once he gets past his defender and going to the rim and can get to the line quite a bit (6.7 FT attempts this season). A score-first guard, lacks elevation on his shot, especially on mid-range pull ups where he barely leaves the floor. Despite his nose for scoring, he’s still able to assist rollers and cutters off pick and rolls, with timely passes.

At 6’5, he has great size as a guard and tries to use it to bother ball handlers and even to play as a secondary rim protector, coming from the help side to contest shots at the rim. His thin frame puts him at a disadvantage against stronger guys, as he can’t establish position inside and can’t fight to win his space. Digbeu also lacks in the pick and roll navigation part of his game, getting stuck on screens and leaving too much space for his man to operate out of it. If picked, Tom Digbeu projects as a late 2nd round draft-and-stash player.

Tristan Vukcevic

Stats (per 36): 17.3 PTS | 66.4% 2FG | 38.2% 3FG | 74.1% FT | 7.3 REB | 2.7 AST | 1.1 STL | 2.5 TOV | 1.1 BLK | 21.4% USG

A class lacking in bigs has given Vukcevic some optimism of coming into the NBA. Especially a floor spacing big like him. Has extremely good outside touch, having shot 40% behind the arc in the ABA League, working out of pick and pops or spot ups and releasing his shot at a high point, given his 7’0 height, virtually impossible to block. As a floor spacer, he’s also able to put the ball on the floor and attack closeouts, but is not the most skilled finisher or with quick enough reaction time to adjust. Despite that, he may be best served as an assist man on drives, as he possesses the ability to get into the paint, calling the defense to him and finding the open man outside.

Defense really is the side of the floor Vukcevic must work harder on. He has the size but isn’t really a rim protector. Avoids contact and isn’t exactly the highest leaper. And the problem extends to defending in space, where he lacks lateral mobility to guard more agile players. He can use his anticipation and ability to read plays in order to come up with blocks or steals, but at his size and without the mobility, he probably has to find ways to be more aggressive defending inside and invite contact, instead of avoiding it. Vukcevic projects as a 2nd round pick and doesn’t look interested in returning to Europe.

Vincent Valerio-Bodon

Stats (per 36): 10.9 PTS | 63.8% 2FG | 38.4% 3FG | 83.8% FT | 5.7 REB | 2.8 AST | 1.3 STL | 1.8 TOV | 1.0 BLK | 14.3% USG

The surprise of the workouts, Valerio-Bodon has become the most sought-out mystery man of the draft. He shot 41.2% at Sopron in the Hungarian league on 3.4 attempts per game. At 6’10, his shooting mechanics are pure, making him one of the best shooters in the class. He is more than a shooter, but that’s clearly his best skill and the one who may just earn him a spot in the NBA. Valerio-Bodon got 1.1 points per possession on catch and shoot opportunities and 1.4 off screens (although fewer repetitions), which makes him more than a spot up shooter, but a movement shooter. He can also put the ball on the floor and finish at the rim or even find teammates, both on the dunker spot or outside.

His size and movement allow him to at least be able to help and contest shots, but he is able to defend a bit in space and cut out or contest some drives. Has the habit of over helping or go help too deep, leaving his man open and needs to cut that off his game. All in all, he won’t be your best defender, he can’t really switch constantly and needs to reduce his helps, but can be a serviceable defender in the league, with the ability to stay in front of his man and accompany him on drives, forcing kick outs or bad shots. Of course, the level of difficulty to defend will be much higher in the NBA than what it was in Hungary. Vincent Valerio-Bodon projects as a 2nd round pick in this year’s draft.

Sidy Cissoko

Stats (per 36): 14.0 PTS | 50.8% 2FG | 30.7% 3FG | 65.0% FT | 3.4 REB | 4.0 AST | 1.4 STL | 2.3 TOV | 1.2 BLK | 18.2% USG

You can access a previous report on Cissoko on our website.

Photo by Kamil Krzaczynski/NBAE via Getty Images