By Hocine LOUKKAF on 11/20/2019

In a heavy guard-oriented international class, let’s take a closer look first at how those guards fare for the moment before checking out the potential first round picks at the other spots.

Guards Watch

Theo Maledon, 6-4 PG, ASVEL, France (5pts 4as Euroleague)
Probably the most difficult to evaluate, Maledon may end up above both Ball and hayes. Playing for the best team of the bunch (ASVEL is currently ranked 9th in the Euroleague), the French prospect has missed a month of competition due to a shoulder injury. Yet, after an average game against Red Star Belgrad last week (5pts 4as 4tos 4fo), he had his coming out party in Euroleague yesterday with 10pts 7as in 16min against top ranked Efes Istanbul. Probably the most low-key among the 2001 guard prospects, Maledon may have activated his mojo and become the most reliable for an NBA coach.

Lamelo Ball, 6-6 PG, Illara Hawks, Australia (14.7pts 6.6rbds 5.8as)
Yes, Lamelo is still the same polarizing prospect. His shot selection is more than inconsistent (36% 24% 3pt) while haters could also add that his team doesn’t win games. Yet, he’s come a long way since the days he was a non-prospect for a lot of draft addicts. He’s at least showing he can create with the ball without turning it over a lot while his offense has been better lately (at least 16pts in each of his last games despite a still too low 36% FG). If he can reach 40+% FG and 33+% from three, his selection in the top 5, even top three, would become a no brainer.

Killian Hayes, 6-5 PG, Ratiopharm Ulm, Germany (12.6pts 6.3as Eurocup)
Hayes is very comparable to Lamelo as a tall PG. While he’s a bit better from three (32% in Eurocup), his turnovers have been a real problem with almost 4tos per game and a poor 1.6a/to ratio. Albeit playing in a tougher league, he’s not either the rebounder Lamelo is, two good reasons to have Hayes lower in the rankings.

RJ Hampton, 6-5 SG/PG New Zealand Breakers, New Zealand (9.2pts 4.6rbds 2.4as)
More of a combo than a real PG, Hampton may not be as talented as the aforementioned players but has good tools to be a nice pro. Shooting 45% from the field and 34% from three, he also averages a pretty low 1.4to for 2.4as. He needs to display either more scoring or passing ability to be the first guard called on draft night.


Best of the rest

Deni Avdija, 6-8 SF, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Israel (2pts 1.4rbds 0.7as Euroleague)
After a golden summer during which he averaged 18pts 8rbds 5as in the Euro U20, Avdija is still struggling to find playing time for Maccabi in Euroleague with only 10min per game. Moreover, he hasn’t displayed yet his versatility as he’s averaging only 1.7as in 22 in Israeli competition. Projected as a top 5 pick, the Israeli star may slip in the 7-15 range if his situation doesn’t evolve during the season.

Amar Sylla, 6-9 PF, BC Ostende, Belgium (5pts 4.6rbds 1.6bl Champions League)
After playing exclusively with Madrid junior team, Sylla decided to move to be able to play at the senior level, choosing Ostende in Belgium to launch his career. In this 2nd/3rd tier European championship, Sylla is far from dominating as he’s averaging 6.8pts 5.2rbds in domestic competition with a poor 35% from the field. His ability to shoot from outside hasn’t been displayed yet with a terrible 4/25 from three. As an inside player, Sylla would be better advised to stay in Europe if he can not compete now with the big bodies at the senior level.

Malcolm Cazalon, 6-6 SG/SF, Leuven Bears, Belgium (7.6pts 2.7rbds 1.6as)
Another French talent barred at the senior level who decided to leave, Cazalon is a swingman who showed flashes of first round potential at last Euro U18. Playing only 4min last year in French Jeep Elite, he’s now averaing almost 20min a game but struggles with his outside shot with 3/15 from deep over the first seven games. As more of a scorer than a versatile player, those numbers needs to go up if he ever wants to have a chance at being drafted this year in the late first.