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A look at this year’s international NBA draft class (and a couple free agents): Part 2, wings and centers

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A lot of talent is available late in the draft and beyond this year

Barcelona v Baxi Manresa - Semifinal Catalan Basketball League Photo by Joan Valls/Urbanandsport /NurPhoto via Getty Images

In this series we discuss available European draft prospects and free agents.

For the first part, click here.

Part 2.1 — Combo Guards

In today’s piece I’ll be focusing on the two players who can be classified as wings (SG/SF) and then discuss two centers.

Yovel Zoosman

Yovel Zoosman is a 6’6” wing with a 7’1” wingspan. He went undrafted in 2019 after some mocks had him in the 50s and the 76ers summoned him to some pre-draft workouts. He then tested the NBA waters with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2019 Summer League, but ultimately went back to Maccabi Tel-Aviv and the Euroleague when he wasn’t offered a guaranteed contract.

Why do I bring him up now? As an undrafted free agent, he has value. His ball handling skills are decent, but his strongest attribute is his defense. He’s the sort of lockdown defender the Wizards desperately need.

He is not at the defensive level of Klay Thompson, Marcus Smart, or Patrick Beverly — think Gordon Hayward post injury. He’s also an okay, but not great, three-point shooter. He connected on 37 percent in his first two seasons, but dropped to 28% in the shortened 2019-20 season.

This would be a red flag for a computer scanning through his data, but as someone who has closely followed him I don’t think it is at all: he suffered a finger injury in January and then missed over a month only to come back to play briefly before games were suspended due to the pandemic. Then, when he came back to play in the Israeli League bubble in July he injured his hip and has been out since. He is expected to be back before the year’s end, and I am pretty sure his numbers will climb up. Of course, 37 percent in Europe might drop to around 30 percent in the NBA, but defenses are also different and there is more spacing in the NBA, so then again his percentages could be higher.

Most important, he has solid fundamentals and incredible work ethic and character (just what Sheppard apparently wants) and could run well for 10-15 minutes with the second unit. And he’d be cheap.

Leandro Bolmaro

Bolmaro is sold by his fans as the next Manu Ginobili. He may not live up to that, but there are some superficial similarities (and many differences). He’s a combo guard/small forward in Europe, which may not to translate to SF in the NBA.

At 6-6, he does have adequate size, and he has a high basketball IQ. He played with the Barcelona powerhouse, sharing the court with Nicola Mirotic and the like. I spoke to Mirotic earlier this year who praised Bolmaro, whom he described as extremely hard-working and a great prospect.

Unlike Zoosman, there is little doubt Bolmaro will be drafted this year. My projection has him in the late first or early second round, which probably will not line him up for the Wizards at 37. The Wizards may not want to sit still and risk seeing him selected a few picks earlier and could trade up a few spots. Or they might get lucky and grab him at 37.

Part 2.2 — Centers

Aleksej Pokusevski

Pokusevski is 7’ tall Serbian center/forward who has drawn comparisons with the Greek Freak. One thing is certainly in common, he currently plays in Olympiacos B in Greece (a second division team, as was the case with Giannis Antetokounmpo!). He barely logged any EuroLeague minutes so I’ll skip his stats there. In the Greek 2nd Division he averaged 10.8 points, 7.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.3 steals, and 1.8 blocks in 23.1 minutes while shooting percentages splits were 40.4/32.1/78.3. Given his age and inexperience it is really a gamble to draft him high up, but I have absolutely no doubt he will be drafted in the first round. Actually, I am guessing he even makes a lottery pick. Again, this year is unprecedentedly dominated by European talent. I am guessing San Antonio pulls the trigger on him given their positional needs and confidence in their development program.

Should the Wizards reach for him at 9th? I would probably be a bit hesitant if I were Sheppard given his and Grunfeld’s miss with Jan Vesely some years back. However, Pokusevski is a different player altogether. He has a tremendous upside and a soft touch and could become some hybrid of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kristaps Porzingis. Yes, that could be a wild exaggeration. But David Blatt who coached him a couple years back in Olympiacos made precisely such a comparision in a recent interview.

Pokusevski is not NBA ready and will need at least a full year either stashed abroad of in the G League, which could be a reason the Wizards who are much more in the win-now mentality take a pass. So let’s discuss a center who is fully ready:

Edy Tavares

Edy Tavares might be one of the best traditional bigs in Europe. After all, he plays for Real Madrid. But in all seriousness, I do not understand how he is not already playing in the NBA. He is 28 years old. I know that already turns off most of you but keep reading. He’s 7’3” who has the agility of a 6’10”. His stat line in last year’s EuroLeague was 7.4 points in 19 minutes, 6.2 rebounds (of which 2.2 offensive), 1.7 blocks, 1.2 TOV, 0.7 assists and shooting splits of 79.4 from the field and 63.2 from the line. He does not shoot from deep, and in fact he did not attempt a single 3 pointer.

He is not foul prone, and he is a wonderful rim protector/rebounder. He is the type of dominant player that can lead your defense and draw plenty of fouls on the offense. He is just what the doctor prescribed for the Wizards. An unselfish, rebound/defense minded center that would pair beautifully with Beal-Wall-Bertans. I think at 4m/year deal for 2+1 years he would be a bargain the whole league will be talking about a year later.