July 27, 2012
By Luka Papalko
The international presence in the NBA is very much a part of the culture and the game's popularity is growing worldwide. With that comes more talent from overseas and from other countries other than the USA. This has become apparent in the NBA more so in the past decade, with teams taking more and more international talent in the draft. It has been a recent trend that teams take international players and "stash" them overseas for the time being, until they're ready to play in the NBA. The teams hold onto the draft rights to a player while they player overseas. With that said, here is a look at the top "draft-and-stash" players.
1. Nikola Mirotic (Bulls) - the 2011 draft pick of the Chicago Bulls is the gem of the draft-and-stash players, considering his talent level, age and potential. Had Mirotic been a player who could have played right away in the NBA, instead of playing overseas for a few years, he would have likely been selected in the lottery. Instead he fell to the late 1st round where the Bulls eventually traded for his rights. The 21-year old is a very versatile power forward whose scoring ability has earned him a spot as one of Europe's best players.
2. Fran Vazquez (Magic) - one of the perhaps more well known draft-and-stash players, Vazquez has been playing overseas since the Magic selected him 11th overall in the 2005 draft. Vazquez has been rumored to come to the NBA for quite a while but it has never materialized due to his contract with his former Spanish club team Barcelona as well as his reluctance to come to the NBA. Despite turning 29 this summer, Vaquez is still an extremely talented player who could be a good big man in the NBA.
3. Erazem Lorbak (Spurs) - a 2005 draftee and current Barcelona player, Lorbak has risen through the ranks since being drafted. The 2nd round pick had success in college and played for several different teams in Europe before coming into his own the last few years with Barcelona. Lorbak has come into his own the last few years, even outshining Vazquez while the two played for Barcelona. Lorbak is now one of the top bigs in Europe and can make an impact as a big man coming off the bench.
4. Petteri Koponen (Mavericks) - the former 2007 1st round draft pick of the Portland Trail Blazers, he has stayed in Europe for several years now. His choice to stay in Europe has been affected by Portland's reluctance to bring him over while they owned his rights. Koponen has been open to coming to the NBA and that could happen now with the Mavericks owning his rights. Koponen is a talented point guard who has scored it well in Europe, which is his main asset.
5. Sergio Llull (Rockets) - the next player up on the list is another point guard, who has been a fixture on Real Madrid for the most of his European career. He has also been a mainstay on the Spanish national team, where he has opened up eyes as well. Llull will eventually come over to the NBA, and when he does he figures to be a good scoring combo guard off the bench with some playmaking abilities.
6. Bojan Bogdanovic (Nets) - selected in the 2011 draft, Bogdanovic his draft rights are owned by the Nets after being selected by the Timberwolves with the 1st pick in the 2nd round. The Croatian wing player has played for several different teams in the Europe and has scored very well wherever he has played. His recent contract with the Turkish club Fenerbache is hindering his immediate ability to play in the NBA. Bogdanovic was a popular prospect in the NBA draft because of his ability to score and handle the ball for a player his size, bringing up a lot of Hedo Turkoglu comparisons.
7. Tomas Satoransky (Wizards) - the newest addition to this list is Satoransky, who was just selected in the June draft by the Wizards at the top of the second round. He is likely to play overseas with his club Sevilla before coming over to the NBA. Satoransky participated in the Summer League with the Wizards and showed off why the Wizards are high on him. He is a very long and lanky wing player, who has point guard skills. He's not much of a scorer yet but he very good athleticism.
8. Davis Bertans (Spurs) - the 2011 draftee by the San Antonio Spurs is a very talented wing player with a terrific shooting stroke but has been very inconsistent in his young career. The scouting report around the 2011 Draft included his battles with inconsistency but players in Europe sometimes take longer to come into their own. The Latvian product is currently playing for Partizan in the Adriatic league and it figures to be a few years at least before he is brought over.
9. Lior Eliyahu (Timberwolves) - a 2006 2nd round draft pick by the Magic, was recently traded to the Timberwolves and now looks like could potentially make their roster. The 26 year old forward has had success playing for Maccabi Tel Aviv in Europe and is now looking to play in the NBA. The Israeli native played in the Summer League with the Timberwolves in hopes of improving his chances of making their roster. He is a good scorer with a high activity level on the court.
10. Ante Tomic (Jazz) - picked by the Jazz in the 2008 draft, Tomic has languished overseas since being drafted. After looking extremely good playing over in Europe at a young age, Tomic has since tailed off a bit and has been battling major consistency issues. He is a tall, skilled big man but hasn't shown the development or aggressiveness necessary to potentially get consistent minutes in the NBA. The good news for Tomic is that time is on his side, as he just turned 25 this year.