Many observers expect Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid to go in the top three picks of the NBA draft. But all three skipped the FIBA under-19 world championships in Prague last year, which became a showcase and a battleground for many talented young players.
Four players in particular rose above the others under pressure at an international level.
1–Tyler Ennis: He might not go in the top 10, but the 6’3″ guard from Ontario, Canada could be the sleeper of the draft. For both Team Canada and Syracuse, he’s shown composure and a knack for making big shots. He’s clever and crafty with a high basketball IQ, and silky smooth cutting to the basket in traffic. Toronto Raptors, selecting 20th, will surely take him if he’s available that late.
2-Aaron Gordon: He was the MVP of FIBA U19 in Prague, and might turn out to be the best player in the draft. He can rebound, defend several positions, and electrify crowds with phenomenal dunking ability in traffic. Like Blake Griffin, he’s a freakish athlete with big hands and bigger hops, and he’s known for his motor at both ends of the floor. If he develops his outside shooting touch, he could be an NBA superstar.
3-Dario Saric: He did everything for Croatia at FIBA U19 — scoring, rebounding and playmaking — and also won Adriatic league and finals MVP honors in Europe. He’s unusually versatile at 6’10’, a deft passer, and tougher down low than most sweet-shooting European big men.
4–Dante Exum: He’s only 18, but he helped lead Australia deeper than expected into the FIBA U19 tournament. He’s a good athlete at 6’6″ and could play either guard position. Like Wiggins, he’s relatively unproven at higher levels, but many teams would love to cultivate his raw talent.