We are officially almost two months into the EuroLeague and international basketball season, meaning we finally have a large enough sample size to start to truly asses players' overall performance.
Here at FanSided, we are going to try to rank just about everything we can from EuroLeague basketball and the international game. This will include established professionals and our assessment of their ability to become NBA role players. An important note for this section is that certain players are excluded based on our belief that they have zero or very little interest in coming to the NBA. Additionally, for now, it is exclusively EuroLeague players. This will likely evolve throughout the season but for now, it is all EuroLeague.
For example, you will not see anything about Mike James, Tornike Shengelia, Sergio Llull, and many other players who clearly have NBA talent. We’re going to talk about a lot of players here, and we don’t want to bog it down even more by talking about players who are happy where they are.
We’re going to talk about and rank prospects for the upcoming 2024 NBA Draft. An important note here is that, for now, we are only talking about prospects playing overseas. Prospects playing for G League Ignite or NCAA ball are exempt from our rankings for now. If you want to know why that is, it’s because the people writing this do need to eventually shut off basketball and get some sleep. So for now, Matas Buzelis, Aday Mara, Jan Vide, and others are excluded.
We will also talk about overseas stashes, rank them, and assess how their season is going. Similar to the overseas professional ranking, some players are exempt here. Nikola Milutinov is one example. The Brooklyn Nets still own his rights, and they should never let him go because he is a very good player, but it's also very unlikely he ever comes over to the NBA even though he could probably start for a few NBA teams right now.
To close, we’re going to have our random players big board. There’s not a defined set of criteria here. Really, it’s players we’ve watched — either intentionally or unintentionally — who have caught our eye and are rarely discussed. They tend to play for lesser-known teams and in lesser-known competitions. Many of these likely tap out at the level of a EuroLeague/EuroCup player, but you never know. And for now, their play warrants recognition.
Some other things to remember here are that these are opinions. In no way is our assessment and/or projection of players a matter of fact. If you think we are ranking a player too high or too low, maybe we are. We’re open to that. But this stuff is not a perfect science, at least not for us. If it was, we’d probably be doing it somewhere else. Now, let’s get started.
EuroLeague Big Board: Ranking for fit as NBA role players
1. Guerschon Yabusele - Versatile forward
Team: Real Madrid (ACB - Spain, EuroLeague)
Physicals: 6-foot-8, 260 pounds, 7-foot-1 wingspan
Stats (All comps): 8.19 points per game, 3.4 rebounds per game, 1.19 assists per game. 48/46/81 shooting splits.
This list starts with two names familiar to NBA fans: Semi Ojeleye and Guerschon Yabusele. Unfortunately, the latter is undergoing knee surgery and projects to miss a decent amount of time. But pre-injury, Yabusele was on a roll, thriving as the player the Boston Celtics clearly thought he could become earlier in his career.
He’s 6-foot-8, 260 pounds, and a solid athlete. He moves his feet well and can elevate decently for his overall build. His athletic and physical prowess enables him to defend multiple positions, essentially 1-4 in Europe. In the NBA, he would struggle with bigger 5s and quicker guards, but who doesn’t?
On offense, he’s shooting 46 percent from 3 on 48 attempts. Over the past three seasons combined, he’s shooting 39 percent from deep on 523 attempts. The majority of these 3-point attempts are no-dribble jumpers, 34 out of 39 across all competitions according to Synergy Sports.
He is playing brilliantly off Real Madrid’s star power: Facundo Campazzo, Edy Tavares, Gabriel Deck, etc. They draw the attention of opposing defenses, Yabusele gets left open, and he capitalizes. He’s getting out in transition and cutting as well, but also flashing skills as a roll man.
The label 3-and-D is both lazy and overused and was used to describe Yabusele in his early days with the Celtics. It also puts players in a box, as if that’s all they’re supposed to do. In EuroLeague, Yabusele has been able to flash other skills in his game such as using touch around the rim, making quick decisions, and being trusted to put the ball on the floor when the situation calls for it. His defense has always been real, the shot has become real, and NBA teams should take a real look at him as a versatile fit around star power.
2. Semi Ojeleye - Versatile forward
Team: Valencia Basket (ACB - Spain, EuroLeague)
Physicals: 6-foot-6, 240 pounds, 6-foot-10 wingspan
Stats (All Comps): 10.13 points per game, 3.5 rebounds per game, 0.27 assists per game. 46/49/84 shooting splits.
Ojeleye, another former Celtic, comes in at 6-foot-6 and 240 pounds. Like Yabusele, his shot is falling like never before. Between last season with Virtus Bologna and this season with Valencia, Ojeleye is shooting 47 percent on 201 attempts. You’d like the volume to be slightly higher, but the improvement is still clear.
Ojeleye comes in behind Yabusele, even after the injury, because he’s slightly smaller and still getting too many of his offensive opportunities out of post-ups. It’s hard to see that translating to the NBA game as something a successful team uses regularly in their offense. His shooting, defensive versatility, and ability to score in transition absolutely warrant a spot in an NBA rotation, but for how good of a team is harder to say.
3. Rolands Smits - Stretch big
Team: Zalgiris Kaunas (LKL - Lithuania, EuroLeague)
Physicals: 6-foot-10, 235 pounds, 7-foot-2 wingspan
Stats (All Comps): 10.81 points per game, 4.19 rebounds per game, 1.38 assists per game. 56/42/88 shooting splits.
After the two former Celtics, we’re going to pivot to one of the most underrated stretch bigs in all of basketball, and that’s Latvian forward Rolands Smits. Smits has gone under the radar for almost his entire career. Even after moving from Fuenlabrada to Barcelona five years ago, he spent most of his time there backing up Nikola Mirotic.
Last season, Smits opted for a smaller club and a bigger role and joined Zalgiris Kaunas. It has paid off. Since last season, Smits is shooting just under 40 percent from deep on 300 attempts across all competitions. This season with Zalgiris — which is still a small sample but big enough to start reacting to — he is shooting over 50 percent from deep on pick-and-pop 3s and spot-up 3s per Synergy Sports.
The other improvements he’s made since joining Zalgiris are as a post-player. He’s scoring more efficiently and also passing better, finding teammates for easy scores. Last season and this season he’s averaging more than an assist per game in EuroLeague play, clear top marks for his entire career to this point.
At 6-foot-10 and 235 his feet aren’t as quick as you’d want them to be. He would definitely get targeted in a playoff series. But his shooting and overall offensive skill set is a clear value add for any NBA team, and could probably play a role similar to Georges Niang, Patrick Patterson, Jamychal Green, and other one-dimensional stretch bigs. There’s always a need for more shooting, and Smits can fill that for a lot of teams.
4. Edy Tavares - Old school big
Team: Real Madrid (ACB - Spain, EuroLeague)
Physicals: 7-foot-3, 265 pounds, 7-foot-9 wingspan, 9-foot-10 standing reach
Stats (All Comps): 9.44 points per game, 6.81 rebounds per game, 0.88 assists per game, 2.06 blocks per game. 66/0/81 shooting splits.
Edy Tavares is here on cred, and what we mean by that is he’s not the ideal EuroLeague player NBA teams are looking for. He’s awesome, and perhaps the most impactful player in EuroLeague, but there are reasonable doubts about how much of his dominance translates to the other side of the pond.
Tavares is now 31 years old, and the main reason he dominates overseas is because he’s 7-foot-3. That height advantage is significant in a league where some teams have multiple centers below 6-foot-11 on their roster.
Tavares is very skilled, he’s not just tall. He’s got great hands and an exquisite touch around the rim. His footwork is solid, and he uses his body well to get space and get his shots off. He’s excellent in the pick-and-roll. He and Facundo Campazzo’s two-man game is almost unstoppable.
On defense, he’s an excellent rim protector. He patrols the paint with a level of talent that deters even some of the most fearless drivers in Europe, and is comfortable playing drop coverage against the pick-and-roll, and actually pretty good at it. But his feet are still slow, and he can end up in foul trouble easily. Getting in early foul trouble isn’t a trait that leaves you when you head to the NBA, it's one that gets exacerbated. The defensive three-second rule will be a detriment to his overall impact as well.
Tavares is deserving of an NBA contract and a rotation spot. But we will need to see him play to determine how big his role should be. There’s a chance he’s a great addition to a team worried about facing Joel Embiid or Nikola Jokic in the playoffs. There’s also a chance he can only stay on the court for 10-15 minutes a night without putting his entire team in foul trouble. Regardless of how it goes, it will certainly be fun to watch should it happen.
5. Donta Hall - Athletic big
Team: AS Monaco (Jeep Elite - France, EuroLeague)
Physicals: 6-foot-9, 229 pounds, 7-foot-2 wingspan
Stats (All Comps): 5.4 points per game, 3.3 rebounds per game, 0.3 assists per game, 0.4 blocks per game. 73/0/60 shooting splits.
Our next two players had genuine NBA interest over the summer, so their inclusion here is no surprise. For Donta Hall, take one look at him on the court and it's easy to see why. He looks like an NBA player, plain and simple. Listed only 6-foot-9 and 230 pounds the Alabama alum looks way bigger, and plays way bigger.
He is a downright scary screen-setter and rim-roller. He’s got good hands to go with his good leap and is as strong as anyone in EuroLeague at the moment. He’s only 26 years old, and thriving as a cutter and roll man for Mike James Monaco this season. This comparison is both easy and lazy, but also apt; he’s very similar to Khem Birch. Strong, long, athletic, and embraces the dirty work. Without question good enough to be a backup center in the NBA alongside solid pick-and-roll guards. Don’t even have to think twice about it.
6. Kevin Punter - Dynamic score-first guard
Team: Partizan Belgrade (Adriatic League - Serbia, EuroLeague)
Physicals: 6-foot-2, 190 pounds,
Stats (All Comps): 9.83 points per game, 2.25 rebounds per game, 2 assists per game. 43/25/85 shooting splits.
Kevin Punter is the second player on this list currently battling injuries, and he was having conversations with the Toronto Raptors this past summer. One look at Punter’s game and it’s easy to see why.
At 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds Punter is a little undersized but makes up for that with a tight handle, sweet shot, and an elite ability to change direction. Last season, Punter averaged just over 16 points per game, sixth best in EuroLeague, on 47/44/92 shooting splits. He was in the 93rd percentile as a pick-and-roll ballhandler and coming off screens, 86th percentile as a spot-up shooter, and 73rd percentile as an isolation scorer. He’s got a deep bag and zero conscience. The Raptors — a team bereft of shooters and ballhandlers — would be a perfect fit for Punter. But if they’re not interested in the summer of 2024, other teams should be.
7. Bonzie Colson - Versatile wing
Team: Maccabi Tel Aviv (BSL - Israel*, EuroLeague)
Stats (All Comps*): 14 points per game, 7.25 rebounds per game, 0.38 assists per game. 48/22/82 shooting splits.
*The domestic Israeli league has been inactive this season.
We have been wanting to write about Bonzie Colson for a long time. The Notre Dame alum had a cup of coffee with the Milwaukee Bucks before heading overseas. After spending some time in France and Turkey, Colson finally signed with EuroLeague club Maccabi Tel Aviv in the summer of 2022 and has been integral to their Final Four contention.
He has however been left out of the spotlight. Lorenzo Brown and Wade Baldwin forming arguably the most dynamic backcourt in EuroLeague is the driver of Maccabi’s success, but Colson’s contributions deserve more recognition.
He is only 6-foot-5 but has great length, his wingspan is 7-feet. During his time at Notre Dame, he played as a small ball center alongside four guards. That defensive versatility has been critical for Maccabi. Colson is comfortable picking up the opposing team's toughest assignment on a nightly basis. If no one stands out in particular, he’ll pick up point guards and harass them with full-court pressure all game. With a solid and bulky frame to go alongside his wingspan, Colson has no problem defending in the post either. His way too-easy NBA comparison is P.J. Tucker.
Colson can score too. He’s averaging 14 points per game this season which has been a huge boost for a Maccabi team that was missing Baldwin for the first few games of the season. He’s also averaging 7.2 rebounds per game, second best in EuroLeague, and 2.6 offensive rebounds per game, tied for fourth best in EuroLeague with Serge Ibaka and Youssoupha Fall.
His shot is down this season, to the point where it is slightly concerning. His cold start has him at 21 percent on nearly 30 attempts. However, he shot 38 percent on over 100 attempts in EuroLeague last season and 36 percent on nearly 200 attempts the season before that. He also shot 43 percent on open spot-up 3s per Synergy Sports last season. He’s not going to be a gravity-altering shooting threat, but can make teams pay for leaving him open.
Colson’s also a solid cutter, add his shooting and offensive rebounding to that and he offers plenty on that end to make his defensive versatility worth betting on for a team in need of solid wing depth. At 27 years old, Colson is deserving of another NBA shot soon.
8. Nigel Hayes-Davis - Versatile forward
Physicals: 6-foot-8, 254 pounds, 7-foot-3 wingspan
Stats (All Comps): 12.14 points per game, 4.64 rebounds per game, 2 assists per game, 1.07 steals per game. 42/29/79 shooting splits.
The final wing in our top 10 is another one who also fails to get the praise he deserves. Honestly, neither of Fenerbahce’s wings — Nigel Hayes-Davis and Dyshawn Pierre — get enough praise. For now, let’s focus on Hayes-Davis.
The former Wisconsin Badger clocks in at 6-foot-8 and 254 pounds. That puts him at a size comparable to Sixers forwards Tobias Harris and Robert Covington. To clarify, Hayes-Davis has an NBA body.
He got his start overseas in the 2018-19 season as a primary option for Turkish Club Galatasaray. He averaged over 15.7 points per game for them in EuroCup play and was snapped up by Lithuanian EuroLeague squad Zalgiris Kaunas for the next two seasons, and then Barcelona. Hayes-Davis role changed and he became more of a secondary offensive option.
Now with Fenerbahce this season and last, Hayes-Davis is back to getting buckets. He also shot 41 percent from 3 last season on 121 attempts. His shot is down this season, but 2022-23 was not an outlier. He posted similar shooting numbers during both of his seasons with Zalgiris. He was in the 79th percentile as a spot-up shooter last season and is just as comfortable attacking closeouts as he is firing away from deep.
He’s an underrated passer as well. He moves the ball with purpose, and his two assists per game may sound paltry but given his limited reps as a ballhandler or creator, those numbers are impressive. Hayes will turn 29 this December. His clock is ticking, but he’s still got time to contribute to an NBA team in need of a well-rounded forward.
9. Darius Thompson - Elite pick-and-roll point guard
Team: Anadolu Efes (BSL - Turkey, EuroLeague)
Physicals: 6-foot-4, 196 pounds
Stats (All Comps): 11.71 points per game, 2.29 rebounds per game, 4.35 assists per game. 52/39/87 shooting splits.
We’re closing out the first section of the big board with two point guards. One of them, Darius Thompson, received NBA interest this past summer after leading EuroLeague in assists with Baskonia. He opted to return to EuroLeague and signed with Anadolu Efes Istanbul as a replacement for Vasilije Micic.
Efes brought in a new head coach, Erdem Can, as well and got off to a rocky start. But they’ve found their footing over the last few games, and so has Thompson. His assist numbers are still down — 3.22 per game compared to 6.71 per game last season - but he’s still averaging over 12 points per game and shooting 42 percent from deep. He is arguably the best pick-and-roll point guard in basketball not currently in the NBA, and will have just turned 29 next summer. Developing a more consistent floater would be helpful for solidifying his ability as an NBA-level point guard, but he’s still there without it at the moment.
10. Keenan Evans - Dynamic point guard
Team: Zalgiris Kaunas (LKL - Lithuania, EuroLeague)
Physicals: 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, 6-foot-5 wingspan
Stats (All Comps): 11.39 points per game, 2.67 rebounds per game, 3.17 assists per game. 44/31/81 shooting splits.
Before we talk about Keenan Evans who is tearing it up for Zalgiris so far in EuroLeague play, here are the guys who just missed the cut for this big board: Zach LeDay, Thomas Walkup, Isaac Bonga, and Alec Peters.
Before tearing his Achilles last season, Evans was cooking. 15.9 points and 3.7 assists on 51/46/81 splits. His breakout season was here, and he was making a strong All-EuroLeague case. But he tore his Achilles, forcing him to miss the entire second half of the season and casting reasonable doubt over what he would look like for the 23-24 season.
He looks the same, maybe even better than he did last season. He’s averaging 14.3 points and 3.7 assists on 49/42/75 splits. He’s dominating the ball, with more than 60 percent of his possessions coming as a pick-and-roll ballhandler or in isolation and he’s currently shooting 47 percent on 3s out of the pick-and-roll. The NBA or certified EuroLeague stardom is likely next for Evans.