NBA Draft 2021

2021 NBA Draft: Who are the international prospects to know? Profiles on Alperen Sengun and Usman Garuba

The 2021 NBA Draft is almost here, set for Thursday, July 29th.

Every year, there are a handful of international players that make their way into the draft pool as relative unknowns to the common fan. In the past, we've seen some of these players blossom into All-Stars and MVPs, with Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic, Milwaukee Bucks two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and Denver Nuggets reigning MVP Nikola Jokic as the most recent examples.

So who are the international prospects that you should know in this year's draft class?

We've already profiled potential lottery pick Josh Giddey, an Australian guard with a playmaking ability that likens to another former NBL Rising Stars graduate in 2021 NBA Rookie of the Year LaMelo Ball.

MORE: Giddey draft profile | How Giddey's passing compares to LaMelo

But there are two other potential lottery picks coming from overseas in the 2021 class that you'll want to get familiar with by draft night.

Alperen Sengün - Besiktas (TSL, Turkey)

Position: Forward/Centre

Age: 18

Measurements: 6-foot-9, 243 lbs.

Plays like: Nikola Vucevic, Al Horford

Sengun is one of the biggest wild cards in the 2021 NBA Draft class. Where he'll land on draft night remains a mystery, as the 6-foot-10, 18-year-old big man could go as high as the top-10, but as low as just outside of the lottery.

The draw with Sengun: he is an international prospect that has already thrived against older competition in one of the best leagues in the world (the Turkish Super League). And he wasn't just a solid role player, Sengun was the MVP this past season.

Averaging 19.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.7 blocks and 1.3 steals per game while shooting 64.6 percent from the field, Sengun put his name on the map as a top-tier prospect with a glass ceiling of potential, waiting to break through at the NBA level.

He is more of a traditional big man, but he has exceptional playmaking skills for his position. Sengun is a physical presence inside and on the glass, but he's also more than comfortable initiating the offence in transition off of defensive rebounds. He does most of his damage as a back-to-the-basket scorer on offence, with impressive footwork and a handful of skilled post moves to get a bucket inside, finishing with power.

He has great court vision as a passer out of the post and is a multi-faceted threat as a roll-man in pick-and-rolls because of his advanced skill set. Sengun displayed a tenacity in the paint as a defensive anchor and rim protector, but it will be interesting to see how he fairs against more athletic competition in the NBA. He's not quiet quick enough to defend wings and guards on the perimeter, so he'll have to find a sweet spot on defence, but he invites contact and showed some shot-blocking chops to hold is own inside.

One of the biggest questions in Sengun's game is his jumper and ability to extend the floor, as the prospect only shot 19 percent from 3 (on 21 attempts) for Besiktas this past season. However, he did shoot 81.2 percent from the free throw line, which bodes well for his shooting touch in the future.

With his resume, measurements and polished skill set, Sengun has the potential to be the steal of the 2021 NBA Draft.

Usman Garuba - Real Madrid (Liga ACB, Spain)

Position: Forward/Centre

Age: 19

Measurements: 6-foot-8, 229 lbs.

Plays like: Bobby Portis, Bruno Fernando

Garuba is another wild card in the 2021 NBA Draft class, with projections ranging from the late lottery to the early 20s. The difference between he and Sengun is that Garuba, at 19-years-old, appears to be more prospect than player right now.

However, coming into the draft process, Garuba is still decorated in his own right. Playing in what is widely considered as the best league in the world outside of the NBA, Garuba was voted EuroLeague Rising Star of the Year and Liga ACB Rising Star of the Year in 2021. He also played a role in Real Madrid taking home the 2019 Liga ACB championship.

Chasing established NBA players like Doncic and Ricky Rubio in the Real Madrid and Liga ACB record books, Garuba surpassed Doncic as the youngest starter in Real Madrid history in 2019. He also leaped Doncic as the youngest player in ACB history to record a double-double in a game, while jumping Rubio as the youngest player in ACB history to post an efficiency rating (PER) over 24.

Garuba is a high-energy power forward whose impact is felt the most on the defensive end.

He's an extremely versatile defender, which bodes well for today's NBA, with the quickness to switch out onto the perimeter, but the strength and physicality to body up in the paint. He has great instincts to come away with steals or help-side blocks and he's aggressive in chasing rebounds on the glass.

He has a very raw offensive skill set, which is the cause for concern with any team that selects Garuba. He's not an exceptional athlete, but he is quick to get off the ground and finish with power and runs the lane fast in transition. He struggles to create his own offence and hasn't displayed any sort of a consistent touch as a shooter outside of the key. He did attempt 71 3s this past season, converting at a 33.8 percent rate, which shows a willingness to add that to his arsenal, but poor free throw percentages draw question marks for his potential as a shooter.

Determining his offensive role will be the deciding factor in Garuba's ceiling as a player at the next level, but his defence, attitude and hustle should be enough for a team to take a flier on him in the mid-first-round.

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