The 2024 draft is loaded with international players from the top down. Here are some lesser-known prospects the Knicks could be considering.

There has been more than enough criticism of the 2024 draft class to the point where it has now become a talking point with the prospects during the pre-draft process. You can even make a case that the narrative went so far one way that the pendulum has swung all the way back around to where the discussions have become about how deep and full of role players this class is.

Regardless of your thoughts on the quality of this class, it is clear that it is a culmination of a journey of alternative pathways to the NBA draft. We have seen an increase in non-NCAA prospects in the last few years, but in a class devoid of top-level talent, we may see that hit a pinnacle. There is a very realistic possibility that there are up to a record-breaking six non-NCAA prospects in the top 10 of the 2024 draft, with four of those players playing professionally overseas prior to the draft.

Those prospects at the very top of the class like the likely 1 and 2 picks Alex Sarr and Zaccharie Risacher will certainly not be Knicks targets this summer, but there are a few Frenchmen as well as other international prospects that may be available at 24, 25, or 38. We are going to talk about these international men of mystery and the good or bad that could come with drafting them.

It seems unlikely according to the experts that the Knicks will draft at all three picks, but if they do, there would be a benefit to drafting internationally with the potential to stash overseas or even develop internally depending on the prospect.

While it does seem like every international prospect in this class is French, there are players from all over, playing in leagues throughout multiple countries.

Some of these prospects were unable to attend the combine due to their season still going on, so their pre-draft processes are just getting started.  These prospects met this week in Treviso, Italy to interview and discuss the endings to their season, some of which raised their stocks significantly in the process.

Pacome Dadiet – Ratiopharm Ulm

Arguably the biggest riser of the international class, Dadiet has worked his way up from the end of the second round in most mocks, all the way up to as high as the mid-first. If this article was written just a week or two ago, I would likely be telling you all the publications having the Knicks select the Frenchman with the 38th pick, but now, it is not uncommon for him to be projected to the Knicks at 24 or 25.

What makes Dadiet such an interesting prospect is that depending on who you are talking to, the selling point could be this incredibly high ceiling or it could be that he is a high-floor prospect ready to contribute immediately. If you believe that both are true, you have a high-level player who teams could argue is worth a late lottery pick.

One of the biggest selling points for the 6’9 Frenchman is his ability to shoot the leather off the ball. This year he shot 35.8% on 2.5 attempts per game but an impressive 38.6% on catch-and-shoot attempts. He ended the year shooting a scorching 52.2% from beyond the arc over his last eight games which helped raise his draft stock, even if it was on extremely low volume, and showed flashes of potential on-ball creation.

The shooting at his size is impressive when considering the variables such as his touch around the basket as well as the fact that he shot nearly 80% from the charity stripe. If you believe in the self-creation, there is a reason to understand the hype for the Ulm wing. Dadiet spoke this week with confidence about his offensive prowess while acknowledging his room for growth on the other side of the ball.

Confidence has never seemed to be Dadiet’s issue and the mindset of the young Frenchman is a reason to believe. He is as aggressive as he is confident offensively, whether it is attacking the basket to try to finish at the rim or pulling up off of a step-back, he is fearless with the ball in his hand. That parlayed with good vision and passing projects to be a fairly high ceiling for one of the youngest players in the class. Dadiet, who will still be 18 at the time of the draft spoke this week about having no intention of being stashed overseas still may be looked at as a project for some. However, the floor spacing and positional size may be enough to convince others that he is ready to contribute sooner rather than later. Those two things combined might be enough of a reason for the Knicks to target him with one of their first two picks.

Nikola Djurisic – Mega MIS

Another riser in this class is the former teammate of Nikola Topic and fellow Serbian countrymate; Nikola Djurisic has taken the draft world by storm with his impressive passing ability and hot shooting streak. No player helped his draft stock more with his play over the last month than the Serbian forward.

Djurisic averaged 21.9 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.5 steals per game while shooting 55% from the field and 46% from deep over the last ten games of the Adriatic League while Mega won eight of their last ten.

That shooting display is what makes Djurisic a bit of a divisive prospect. Even with the otherworldly shooting at the end of the season, the 20-year-old forward only shot 33% from beyond the arc on 3.7 attempts per game. Still, this is a far cry from the 22% he shot on the same attempts per game in his 22-23 campaign.

As with many young prospects, shooting is the swing skill that determines how you view him as a prospect. This is particularly important with a player like Djurisic whose creation ability is dependent on the fact that defenses need to be honest with him to allow him to create at all three levels due to a lack of first step.

After Nikola Topic’s transfer to Red Star, there was a dramatic change in Djurisic’s usage at Mega. His usage skyrocketed as he became more of an on-ball threat while looking to score more. That offense was significantly dependent on Djurisic for both isolation scoring as well as being the ball handler in the pick-and-roll.

Once Djurisic was able to unlock some of that scoring ability, he could really show off the passing chops. He has high-level vision and is one of the flashier passers in the class with precision passes from all over the court. There is some question about what that role will be and how he will scale down to not having the ball in his hands. However, one thing that is not a question is his ability to score the basketball. He is a creative ball handler who does a great job of creating space and getting to his spots to score which gives him good upside as a potential second-round pick.

Juan Nunez – Ratiopharm Ulm

While some of these prospects are newer names in the draft world, Juan Nunez has been around for quite some time. He has been a major player in the Spanish international basketball scene for years, leading them in multiple U18 tournaments, and now competing for time in the backcourt on their Olympic team against Ricky Rubio.

At 6′ 5, Nunez has good positional size for an old-school traditional point guard with a high-level IQ as a floor general. There may not be a better passer in the 2024 draft class than Juan Nunez. That is true in multiple ways, his timing and accuracy show true wizardry with the ball. He can fit the ball into tight spaces with pinpoint precision but more importantly, makes the right reads more often than not.

Nunez disguises his passes with ball fakes and head fakes but still makes the pass after showing patience and waiting for a play to open up. This is why he was trusted to be the primary facilitator for Ulm. A master floor general with unparalleled vision is a good place to start, but it is not the only way Nunez contributes on offense.

The 19-year-old Spaniard is dangerous in the pick and roll, not only because of his playmaking ability but of his craft and creativity to finish at the rim. There could be questions about how that would translate against NBA length and athleticism, but the feel for the game is sure to translate. With that, you would hope that with the nice touch and creative arsenal of below-the-rim finishing moves, that Nunez will still be able to score at the NBA level.

While he is still a plus defender even without athletic advantages, there are very real concerns about the shooting. According to the DraftExoress database, he is a career 27% 3-point shooter and at 60% from the free throw line in 274 games. In Eurocup this year for Ulm, he did shoot 36% from 3, but still only shot 56% from the free throw line. There are not a ton of reasons to believe in the shot going forward, but you can hope that he becomes a decent enough shooter to be on the court to allow his playmaking to take hold.

However, in recent news that impacts the Knicks on multiple levels: rumors started swirling about Juan Nunez signing a contract with Barcelona for the upcoming year. That is important for two reasons for the Knicks’ future. First of all, the Barcelona contract makes Nunez a very intriguing draft and stash prospect for a team with multiple picks such as the Knicks. Secondly, Juan Nunez competing in a crowded backcourt sport for Barcelona may mean they no longer have room for current guard Rokas Jokubaitis.

Melvin Ajinca – Saint-Quentin Basketball

The likely fifth Frenchman to be selected in this year’s draft brings a tried and true 3-and-D skillset to the process. The 6’7 forward has a 6’10 wingspan and shot 35.7% on 5.6 attempts per game in the LNB Pro A league in France. The lengthy lefty serves a very important role going forward if he can achieve that same success at the NBA level.

He is a relocation shooter who can come in and knock down shots tomorrow. He is a lethal shooter off the catch and has shown the ability to attack a closeout or sidestep into an open look. He is a good cutter and uses his athleticism to finish above the rim in the half-court setting as well as in transition.

It remains to be seen how much offensive potential Ajinca possesses, but defensively there is reason to believe in a high ceiling. With a good frame, long arms, and solid athleticism, Ajinca has all the qualities of a high-level wing defender. Not only is he a versatile defender who can guard multiple positions, he is relentless at the point of attack.

While Ajinca may not be the most exciting prospect in the class, if you can get a true blue 3-and-D wing in the second round, that is a remarkable value.  The lateral quickness and footwork that Ajinca possesses on defense alone make him a worthwhile gamble but with the shooting too, you could be developing a really valuable role player.

Bobi Klintman – Cairns Taipans

Bobi Klintman had a very different path than the rest of these prospects. Nearly everybody else discussed here either started playing in their home country or is currently playing in their home country. That is not the case for the Swedish wing who went to high school in Kansas and decommitted twice from college basketball teams before playing his freshman year at Wake Forest. After one up-and-down season in Winston-Salem, Klintman took his talents to the NBL Next Stars program.

There is a theoretical high-level wing within the strong 6’10 frame. Klintman has shown flashes of skill on both sides of the ball that could potentially manifest into a real versatile two-way wing. The hope was that he would show improvement in the NBL after testing the waters after his freshman year.

There was definite improvement, especially as a scorer. The shooting numbers were consistently good over his last two seasons, shooting 36.8% at Wake and 35.7% for Cairns. When you parlay that with shooting over 75% from the free throw line both years with a steady increase, you would hope that the shooting would translate to the next level.

The biggest selling point for Klintman as a prospect would probably be his passing flashes. The floor for Klintman’s passing is as a connective passer who can help keep the ball moving or make outlet passes in transition. The ceiling would be a secondary playmaker who can facilitate the offense from an on-ball role with the hope that his vision would translate either way.

Offensively, there are concerns that he would not be able to create his own shot at the next level. Specifically with the slow foot speed, it is a valid question to ask if Klintman will be able to create any separation at the next level. He struggled with finishing at the rim and lacked any creative finishing moves outside of dunks. He also has not shown any pull-up game or mid-range shot creation.

Defensively, the idea of a 6’10 strong wing with lateral quickness that can switch, play small ball 5, and defend multiple positions is a perfect modern NBA player. However, he is not yet strong or particularly quick. However, he is long with quick hands and the ability to get his hands on balls for steals and blocks.

Mileage may vary on where teams and scouts alike stand on Klintman. You can make a case that the floor for a big wing that can shoot and pass is very high, and you can argue that somebody with the tools that he has would be able to potentially develop into a more complete player. Either way, it will take time and development as far as he currently is from an NBA player, but in the right franchise, he might be worth the risk.

Ariel Hukporti – Melbourne United

The 6’11 big man is a pretty cut-and-dry prospect. He is big, he is strong, and he is physical. There is nothing wrong with that, he is not going to try to get fancy or take any jump shots, but he will try to dunk it on your head.

The best skill that I have noticed while watching Hukporti is his screening. He is a high-level screener, arguably as good as any big in this class not named Zach Edey. He is strong and does a great job of making contact and with his size, that can open up a lot of space for the ball handler.

Once he sets those screens, he knows what to do and is a nasty finisher. He is a rim-running big who does not over-extend himself but is a good play finisher. He catches lobs and can finish at the rim through traffic, which is especially impressive for recovering from a torn Achilles only one year ago.

He is a good rebounder who has a great nose for the ball on the offensive glass to give himself put-back opportunities. Part of that comes from having a high motor and working extremely hard to rebound. That effort also translates to the defensive side of the ball and while he would not be able to step out and guard on the perimeter, he is a good shot blocker and rim protector.

The 22-year-old German big man is on the older side of prospects and certainly lacks upside. However, for a second-round pick, he absolutely looks like somebody who can contribute as a backup big man. If the Knicks do not take a big man in the first or even at 38, Hukporti might be available later or as a UDFA to help add some depth to the frontline.

Ulrich Chomche – APR

The last prospect I am going to discuss today is by far the most interesting. Ulrich Chomche is arguably the most raw prospect in the class. There are people that would argue that means he has the highest upside. While that is hyperbolic, there is a case to be made for the youngest player in the class to have a high ceiling.

The 18-year-old big man is physically gifted, he is listed at 6’10 with an impressive 7’4 wingspan. Not only is he big and strong, but he is fast too. The Cameroonian big man is a marvelous athlete with tremendous lateral quickness for his size.

The athleticism and size give him a defensive appeal at the very least, and on top of that, he has impressive instincts on that side of the ball. At the lower levels, we have seen his physicality be enough to compensate for any defensive lapses he has and make him an impactful defender. That may not be the case in the NBA but the hope would be he would continue to grow defensively from that high baseline of athleticism and instincts.

Offensively, he is beyond limited in his role. He sets screens and finishes plays for the time being and that is all he has been asked to do. He has shown flashes of face-up offense along with shooting the ball throughout the pre-draft process. If you are to believe in him to the extent where you see him as a first-round prospect, you would have to be able to justify it with a projection of shooting growth and a more well-rounded offense.

Chomche is hard to project due to the small sample size and lack of high-level competition he has played against. He has shown flashes of passing as well as an improved jumper and overall process. It is hard to say he will not continue growing as the youngest and most inexperienced player in the class. The question to me is if that growth trajectory will be rapid enough for him to develop to an NBA level quickly enough.

If you do some research on the people writing about Ulrich Chomche, you will see more than one person compare him to Giannis Antetokounmpo. While I am not that person and find that statement to be both outlandish and offensive, you can see why someone would make that comparison for someone with elite physical tools and rapid growth in skill. However, Giannis is an outlier and for every Giannis Antetokounmpo, there is more than one Aleksej Pokusevski who is unable to ever put it together in a meaningful way. If there is ever going to be a draft to take a flyer on a project with a high upside, it is this one. So, the question is not if somebody will, but when will they be willing to pull the trigger and would the Knicks be interested?

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