NBA Draft Prospects to Watch: Is Sarr a star, a hot Topic, a Risacher test, and other international players

Detroit Bad Boys

The consensus for the upcoming 2024 NBA Draft is that it is weaker than previous years, lacking a clear No. 1 prospect. That may be true at this point, but in every draft, there are great players who can change the direction of a franchise; they just have to be identified.

I previously discussed the G-League Ignite and the top collegiate players, but now I wanted to highlight some of top prospects internationally who could be in play towards the top of the draft. In fact, this group could hold all of the top 3 draft picks come June, making this group one to keep a close eye on for Detroit Pistons fans.

International Prospects

Generational prospects like Victor Wembanyama don’t come around often, but even beyond him, there has been an impressive amount of NBA talent coming out of the international scene. The NBL is home to some of the best basketball in the world and has become a pipeline for NBA talent over recent years, producing first-round draft picks LaMelo Ball, Josh Giddey, RJ Hampton, and Ousmane Dieng. This trend looks to continue in the upcoming draft.

Alexandre Sarr

Originally from France, Alexandre Sarr was a member of the Overtime Elite program for the last two seasons, earning All-OTE Second Team honors in 2023. Still only 18 years old, he is now a member of the Perth Wildcats of the NBL and has a chance to cement himself as one of the top prospects in the 2024 NBA draft class. Off to a strong start to the NBL season, through 18 games he is averaging 9.67 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks in only 17 minutes per game. The 7-foot-1 PF/C has shown an impressive offensive skill set and the potential to stretch the floor beyond the arc, though is shooting only 29.5% on three-point attempts this season so this is still somewhat theoretical. Sarr is also a major difference maker who can alter shots on the defensive end and has the mobility NBA teams covet in big men.

Crvena Zvezda Meridianbet Belgrade v Partizan Mozzart Bet Belgrade - Turkish Airlines EuroLeague

Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

Nikola Topic

Serbian prospect Nikola Topic is an intriguing name to watch for in the EuroLeague who has been shooting up draft boards after his breakout as a scorer. Through 19 games (17 in the ABA), the 6-foot-6 point guard is currently averaging 16.37 points and 6.1 assists per game while shooting 49.8 percent from the floor and 87.7% from the free-throw line. Topic is currently shooting only 28.2% from three on 4.1 attempts per game, but this is likely to improve. In 2022-2023, Topic appeared in 37 games, shooting 37% from three on 3.5 attempts per game. This paired with his free-throw shooting are strong indicators that he can improve as a shooter. The potential is there for Topic to develop into a three-level scorer who can create for others at a high level. He must cut down on turnovers and continue to improve on the defensive end but is on track to being a top 5 draft pick.

Bobi Klintman

Bobi Klintman was a notable prospect during last year’s draft cycle, garnering late 1st and early 2nd round draft consideration. Klintman instead opted to pull out of the draft and leave Wake Forest for the NBL, signing with the Cairns Taipans. Originally from Sweden, Klintman is a 6-foot-10 PF who flashed impressive defensive potential, rebounding, and developing ability to space the floor, knocking down 36.8% from three on 2.3 attempts per game as a freshman at Wake Forest. He is off to a strong start in the NBL, averaging 9.7 points per game on 44/35.7/79 shooting splits to go with 4.8 rebounds and 0.8 steals in 21.3 minutes per game.

All Star Game - Paris

Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images,

Zaccharie Risacher

Zaccharie Risacher is a 6-foot-8 forward for JL Bourg-en-Bresse in France’s top professional league who can play either forward spot with his combination of defensive versatility, length, and athleticism. The 18-year-old flashed his ability to be disruptive playing the passing lanes during the FIBA U19 World Cup with a five-steal game and multiple three-steal games over the seven-game tournament. He has shown to be a player who attacks the rim effectively, passes well, and can make an impact on the glass. His development as a shooter should cement him among the top prospects in the draft. Through 40 games this season, Risacher is averaging 11.3 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.0 steal per game while shooting a stellar 50.6/44.8/68.6.

Tidjane Salaun

Tidjane Salaun is another very intriguing French prospect who has the chance to shoot up draft boards if he can continue to build on his strong stretch of play for Cholet Basket. Through 38 games, the 6-foot-9, 18-year-old forward is averaging 9.4 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.16 steals in 21.8 minutes per game on 41.5/35.9/78.6 shooting. He is a fluid athlete, a strong defender with an impressive 7-foot-1 wingspan, and has a promising jumper with good form. Being one of the best 3&D prospects as well as one of the younger prospects in the draft makes Salaun a very intriguing developmental option and one of the highest ceiling prospects in the draft.

Juan Nunez

Juan Núñez is a 19-year-old PG from Spain who is currently playing for Ratiopharm Ulm in Germany’s top professional league. The 6-foot-4 guard has great court vision and passing ability to go with his high-basketball IQ, making him well-suited to run an offense at the next level. Through 35 games so far this season, Núñez is averaging 10.6 points, 5.3 assists, and 1.74 steals in 24.1 minutes per game on 49/31.8/64.3 shooting splits. After an initial hot start to the season shooting the ball, Núñez has regressed back to his prior season shooting numbers, which when combined with his below average free-throw shooting makes me skeptical of his shot developing.

Hansen Yang

18-year-old Chinese phenom Hansen Yang has begun to gain traction for the upcoming NBA draft. During the summer, Yang represented China in the FIBA U19 World Cup. Over seven games, the 7-foot-1 center averaged an impressive 12.6 points, 10.4 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 5 blocks per game. He has continued his impressive play through 39 games with the CBA, averaging 15.6 points, 11.4 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 2.3 blocks in 34.3 minutes per game. Yang is a good scorer around the basket and has shown impressive feel as a passer. Has shown some willingness to shoot if open, but continuing to develop as a shooter could make him very dangerous on offense. Yang is a strong rebounder and has shown great instincts in rim protection as well as when setting screens.

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