How Good Are The Overseas Leagues of Draft Prospects LaMelo, Deni and Killian?
Are LaMelo Ball, Deni Avdija and Killian Hayes playing the equivalent competition of the NCAA? G-League? U.S. high school ball?
For detailed scouting reports of the draft’s prospects, see our extensive past coverage.
How Good Are Overseas Leagues?
I’m ramping up to do another round of Beat The Draft for Deni Avdija and possibly LaMelo Ball. To do this, I will need to anonymize the overseas leagues by giving you the approximate strength of the competition.
This is important to do anyway, since each year we seem to have more and more NBA prospects coming from overseas leagues instead of from American colleges.
So we have the basic question of how much stock to put in, say, LaMelo Ball’s Australian National Basketball League. Is it like the NBA? The NCAA? US high school ball? This article will give you rough tiers to give context to their amazing (or unamazing) stats.
The Overseas League Tier List
Let’s cut to the chase and give you my answers, and then justify this afterwards.
Here are the world’s leagues in rough tiers, ranked by how performance translates to the NBA.
Elite Level: Euroleague, Spanish Liga ACB, FIBA World Cup
G-League Level: Russian VTB, Turkish BSL, Italian Serie A, Eurocup
Top NCAA Level: Australian NBL, French LNB Pro A, German BBL, Adriatic League
Mid NCAA Level: Israeli BSL, Baltic League BBL Elite, Greek A1
Low NCAA Level: Lithuanian LKL, Canadian NBL, Ukrainian Superleague, Cypriot Division A, Serbian KLS, Chinese CBA
Sub NCAA Level: Every other league.
You may not agree with these tiers. That’s fine. I explain my sources below.
Where The Big Prospects Played
Here is every overseas prospect (that I’ve seen ranked in anybody’s Top 100) and where they played. I added a couple of notes from friend of the site Evan Z. (See the stupendous podcast he did with Dubs and Daniel).
Deni Avdija* F Maccabi Tel Aviv, EuroLeague (*also Mid NCAA below)
Leandro Bolmaro F Barcelona, Spanish Liga ACB
Theo Maledon* G ASVEL, EuroLeague (*also Top NCAA below)
Arturs Zagars PG Joventut Badalona, Spanish Liga ACB
Paul Eboua F Victoria Libertas Pesaro, Italian Serie A
Top NCAA Level
LaMelo Ball G Illawarra Hawks, Australian NBL
R.J. Hampton G New Zealand Breakers, Australian NBL
Killian Hayes G Ulm, German BBL
Theo Maledon* G ASVEL, French LNB Pro A (*also Elite above)
Abdoulaye N’Doye G/W AS Monaco, French LNB Pro A
Mid NCAA Level
Deni Avdija* F Maccabi Tel Aviv, Israeli BSL (*also Elite Level above)
Yam Madar G Hapoel Tel Aviv, Israeli BSL
Low NCAA Level
Malcolm Cazalon SG Mega Soccerbet, Serbian KLS
Marko Simonovic C Mega Bemax, Serbian KLS
Rokas Jokubaitis G Zalgiris Kaunas, Lithuanian LKL
Sub NCAA Level
Aleksej Pokusevski C Olympiacos B, Greek 2nd Level
Some Notable Comments
Ranking The Overseas Leagues
I am not an expert at international basketball! The way I made these tiers is by consulting two rankings of leagues abroad:
First, Fran Fraschilla (2017) uses his experience to rank these leagues:
Spain's Liga ACB
Turkish Basketball Super League (BSL)
Russia's VTB United League
Germany's Basketball Bundesliga (BBL)
Italy's Lega Basket Serie A (LBA)
France's LNB Pro A
Adriatic League (ABA)
Greek A1 League
Australia's National Basketball League (NBL)
Chinese Basketball Association (CBA)
Second, Layne Vashro (2016) did a fascinatingly detailed look at projecting NBA performance from international competition performance. Here is a rough tiering of the above leagues (higher measure = higher predicted NBA translated numbers):
3.8: NBA Playoffs
3.0-3.3: NBA, Team USA Exhibitions
2.5: Olympic Games
1.9-1.5: FIBA World Cup, Euroleague, Spanish Liga ACB
1.3-1.1: NBA D-League, old Russian PBL, Italian Serie A
1.0-0.87: Pac-10 NCAA, Eurocup, Russian VTB United
0.82-0.75: ACC NCAA, Australian NBL, Turkish BSL, Adriatic League
0.70-0.65: SEC NCAA, French LNB Pro A, German BBL
0.56-0.40: PAC-12, Big 12 NCAA, Big 10 NCAA, Israeli BSL, Baltic League BBL Elite, FIBA Africa, Greek A1
0.15-0.30: MWC, WAC, WCC, A10, SunBelt, AAC NCAA. Lithuanian LKL, Canadian NBL, Ukrainian Superleague, Cypriot Division A, Serbian KLS
Notable Below: Chinese CBA (-0.04), New Zealand NBL (-1.04)