Mark Schanowski

2020 NBA Draft: Top 10 international prospects

2020 NBA Draft: Top 10 international prospects

In what’s being viewed as a weak 2020 draft, NBA talent evaluators spent a lot of time overseas this winter scouting international league competition.

Sure, there are some good prospects from outside the U.S. this year, like French point guards Killian Hayes (who was born in the U.S. but has spent most of his life in Europe) and Theo Maledon, and Israeli forward Deni Avdija, but it’s unlikely any of them will turn into a multiple-time All-Star at the NBA level.

Two of the top players outside of the U.S. this year were LaMelo Ball and R.J. Hampton, who grew up in the U.S., but decided to go the overseas pro route for one year instead of spending one year in college.

So, if you’re hoping your favorite team can find the next Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic or Pascal Siakam in this draft, you’re going to be disappointed.

Here’s a look at our top 10 international prospects this year:

2020 NBA Draft: Top 10 international prospects

 

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Experiencing a night of the Bulls’ dynasty through a five-year-old’s eyes

Experiencing a night of the Bulls’ dynasty through a five-year-old’s eyes

Though I covered countless Bulls practices and games during my eight years at WLS-TV, I can’t really say I knew Michael Jordan all that well.

I had a few opportunities to talk with him outside of the mass interview clusters featured heavily in “The Last Dance,” and generally found him to be friendly and engaging. He would look you in the eye and seemed comfortable discussing anything going on in the world of sports or entertainment. We’ve seen Jordan’s harsh side captured during the documentary, but he also had a genuine warmth that came through in one-on-one conversations.

I remember being in Sarasota, Fla. covering White Sox spring training back in Jordan’s baseball days when news broke of a trade sending Stacey King to Minnesota for Luc Longley. We sat in front of his locker for a few minutes talking about what was going on in the NBA, and I got the feeling Jordan hadn’t closed the door on a basketball comeback.

Fast forward to the spring of 1998, when it seemed pretty obvious to everyone that this would be the final season of the Bulls dynasty led by Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Phil Jackson. Getting tickets to a Bulls’ home game that season was incredibly difficult, but I wanted to make sure I had a chance to take my five-year-old son Eric to the United Center before the team was broken up. Fortunately, we got that chance, securing tickets to an early-April game against the Wizards.

For a five-year-old who was just starting to understand the role sports played in his father’s life, the chance to see Michael Jordan and the other Bulls players was incredibly exciting, and my wife made sure Eric had his mini Bulls warmup suit ready to go.

On the drive in from our home in the Western suburbs, I was going through a mental debate about whether I would try to find a way to have Eric meet the world’s most famous athlete. Jordan usually arrived in the player’s parking lot between 5:30 and 5:45 p.m., with photographers from all the local TV stations waiting to capture his walk down the tunnel to the Bulls’ locker room. Most of the time Jordan would give a few brief answers to questions about that night’s game as the cameramen, walking backwards, tried to avoid tripping over all the cables.

Unfortunately, the inbound Eisenhower was especially bad that night, and as we sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic in the dreaded “Hillside strangler” merging area, I figured the chance to have Eric see Jordan on his way into the arena was lost.

Upon arriving at the arena a little after 5:30 p.m., I quickly took Eric downstairs to see if we might be able to get a couple pictures for him to enjoy when he got older. The first person we ran into was the always affable Steve Kerr, who greeted us with a big smile, and welcomed Eric to his first Bulls game.

From there, we headed down the hallway to the area where Jordan entered the arena, and discovered MJ hadn’t arrived yet. Within a matter of minutes, here comes Michael, flanked by his personal security detail. 

Jordan spotted me holding my quite nervous five-year-old child, shook my hand and gladly offered to take a photo with us. I handed my camera to a media colleague, took the photo, thanked Michael, and just like that, we had a memory to last a lifetime.

The rest of the night went by quickly as Eric took in the incredible Bulls’ game night experience. We were able to get photos with Bill Wennington, Jud Buechler and Benny the Bull, and Eric got a chance to watch some of the world’s greatest athletes warm up while standing on the court that he had only previously seen on television.

The Bulls won the game (of course), and the ride back to the suburbs was filled with a very tired five-year-old’s excited stories about a perfect night watching his sports heroes. My biggest concern was whether the photo with Jordan would turn out okay, and thankfully, WGN’s Randy Salerno did a great job, as I found out when I anxiously picked up the prints the next day. (Yes, the process was a little more complicated back then!)

Of course, this was just a run-of-the-mill regular season game, one of 82, but it’s a night that Eric and I will always remember.

Those photos proudly hang in our basement, right next to the big screen monitor I used to watch games almost every night. 

One day that framed photo board will hang proudly in Eric’s home as he tells his children about the night he met the greatest basketball player of all time, Michael Jordan.

Through May 15, NBC Sports Chicago is airing every 1998 Chicago Bulls NBA Playoff game (21 total). Find the full schedule here.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.

2020 NBA Draft: Top 10 frontcourt prospects

2020 NBA Draft: Top 10 frontcourt prospects

Not that long ago, NBA teams would be lining up to draft physical big men who could score efficiently with their backs to the basket. But in today’s pace-and-space NBA, power forwards and centers who can’t defend smaller players on pick-and-roll switches and who don’t have 3-point range are much less valuable.

The 2020 draft class features a number of traditional, low-post scorers who might have been top-10 picks in the past. Take the case of Duke’s Vernon Carey Jr., a 6-foot-10, 270 pound force who averaged 17.8 points and 8.8 rebounds during his freshman season, shooting 57.7% from the field, better numbers than Bulls’ center Wendell Carter Jr. put up during his one collegiate season.

But because Carter Jr. fit the modern position profile of an athletic, agile big man who can defend smaller players in space while also offering rim protection and offensive potential, he wound up being selected No. 7 overall in the 2018 draft. Meanwhile, Carey is projected to go late in round one and is looked at as a backup center by most teams.

It seems counterintuitive for NBA teams to expect the tallest players on the roster to have the shooting range and mobility of guards, but that’s what modern basketball has become. And it’s definitely had an impact on how teams evaluate the top big-man prospects on their draft boards.

With that said, here are our top 10 frontcourt prospects for the 2020 NBA Draft:

2020 NBA Draft: Top 10 frontcourt prospects

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