After our French League preview, we move to Germany, where the Basketball Bundesliga will be starting on September 28th. While the German league might not have the depth of talent of its French counterpart, it does have two of the best guard prospects in European basketball, as well as a number of talented young players who could find their way to the NBA during the next few years.
Here are some names that NBA scouts will be keeping in sight during the Basketball Bundesliga 2022-23 season.
Tier 1: Projected Draft Picks
18.3 years old | 6’4” Guard | Ratiopharm Ulm
Nuñez is not just the best passer in this international class, he is likely the best passer to come out of the international game since Luka Doncic. Simply put, there is not a single pass that Nuñez doesn’t have in his arsenal and he’s able to find teammates all over the court, both in transition and in the half-court with accurate and creative passes.
A master of manipulating defenders with his dribble, Nuñez is not an explosive ball-handler, but he is smooth and secure with the ball in his hands, being comfortable driving through traffic and drawing multiple defenders, which he exploits to set teammates for open shots. When he calls his own number, the Spaniard uses his 6-foot-4 size and developed upper body to impose himself physically and create space against smaller perimeter defenders.
Shooting had always been a bit of an Achilles heel for Nuñez, but the 42.9% he shot from three-point range this summer at the FIBA U20 European Championships and some moments of shooting off-the-dribble at the tournament could be indicators for improvement in this area. However, he has historically shot a low volume from beyond the arc, just like he did at the tournament (just two attempts per game), which makes it hard to project him as a shooter at the next level.
After spending his formative years at Real Madrid and seeing mostly garbage minutes for the senior team last year, Nuñez made the move to Germany where he should be expected to see more minutes and have a bigger role for Ulm, where he will try to reprise the MVP performance he had at the U20 European Championships.
19.0 years old | 6’5” Wing | Ratiopharm Ulm
Considered as one of the best and most versatile shooting prospects in Europe, Zugic left Buducnost in his native Montenegro and signed with Ulm ahead of the 2021-22 season and in his first season in Germany he showed clear potential as an offensive weapon at the NBA level.
Zugic is able to convert jumpers off-the-catch with little time and space and against heavy defensive pressure. His shooting off-the-dribble is also outstanding, as he’s able to create space for his jumpers both with his handling ability and by using screens in pick-and-roll situations. Zugic’s shot looks great mechanically, having an extremely repeatable and consistent shooting motion.
Far from being a one-trick pony offensively, Zugic also shows the ability to get to the basket with a quick first step and by taking advantage of the closeouts he draws with his shooting ability.
The other side of the ball, however, hasn’t been ideal for him. It’s clear that Zugic hasn’t fully grown into his frame, which in his first season in Germany, has made him susceptible to contact, especially when defending screens. Lacking elite length, he’s also slightly limited to defending Point Guards or average-sized Shooting Guards.
It will be interesting to see if Zugic can take a leap in his second season in Germany, improving in terms of efficiency, cutting down on turnovers and providing any sort of value defensively. If he does, he should be considered as one of the top international Guard prospects in the draft. The offensive upside is just too high to pass up.
Tier 2: Potential Prospects
18.4 years old | 6’6” Guard | Ratiopharm Ulm
Jensen was one of the breakout players of FIBA youth tournaments this summer. While leading Denmark to a second place finish at the U18 European Championships Division B, Jensen showed a complete passing ability, being able to find teammates with advanced reads and deliveries, both on the move and in half-court situations. Scoring-wise, he doesn’t possess the most explosive first step, but he is generally smooth with the ball in his hands, which allows him to drive through traffic and his combination of length and vertical explosiveness allow him to finish at the rim. His shooting has also been impressive, as he converted on 37% of his 205 attempts from beyond the arc, between FIBA and the German Third Division last season.
Having the size of a wing and the skillset of a Point Guard, his profile is extremely intriguing, if he grows into his body and cleans up some aspects of his game, such as tightening the handle to reduce turnovers and making his shooting mechanics more repeatable and compact, he could develop into an NBA prospect in the next few years.
20.2 years old | 6’4” Guard | Hamburg Towers
Schoormann has stood out at nearly every step of his career due to his aggressive scoring mentality and his athleticism, which he utilizes to outpace opponents in the open court and finish at the rim with explosiveness. Schoormann, however, doesn’t play the most efficient type of game and last season, as he saw an increase in his minutes, his efficiency took a dip, shooting just 38.3% from the field and committing almost twice the amount of turnovers as he had assists.
After spending the bulk of his formative years in Frankfurt, Schoormann will join Hamburg this year. If he can improve his efficiency, becoming a more consistent shooter and continuing to improve on the moments of passing on the move he showed at the FIBA U20 European Championships this summer, he will likely get some looks as a two-guard prospect with interesting tools and scoring upside.
Luc Van Slooten
20.4 years old | 6’9” Forward | Löwen Braunschweig
Van Slooten has been considered as a high-level prospect in Europe for a while, thanks to his combination of 6-foot-9 size, coordination, mobility and defensive contributions. While he’s not a primary rim protector, his versatility to cover perimeter players at his size, combined with his ability to rebound and his anticipation to make defensive plays off the ball make him an interesting defensive prospect. Offensively, his role lies mostly off-the-ball by cutting to the basket, running the floor in transition and hitting shots off the catch, but he has shown the ability to put the ball on the floor in grab-and-go situations or to attack closeouts.
Van Slooten does not offer a high-level of creation for himself or others off the dribble, but he provides value on both ends of the floor with his defensive versatility and low-usage role on offense. A strong season could put him in consideration as a draft-and-stash prospect.
Tier 3: More Names to Follow
20.4 years old | 5’11” Guard | HAKRO Merlins Crailsheim
An aggressive Point Guard who creates advantages with his smooth dribbling ability and is able to capitalize on them by finishing at the rim with a solid level of touch or by finding teammates on the move with reactive and creative passes. His below-average size and the lack of elite shooting ability will likely keep him from NBA consideration in the short term, but it’s easy to envision him becoming a high-level floor general in Europe.
18.8 years old | 6’8” Forward | Ratiopharm Ulm
A toolsy 6’8″ forward out of Austria, Fuchs has an impressive ability to put the ball on the floor to attack closeouts and punish mismatches when he’s defended by smaller perimeter players. Defensively he is able to use his size and length to bother opposing ball-handlers and contain penetration in the perimeter. Fuchs lacks high-level experience and hasn’t been efficient as a shooter as of this point, but the combination of tools, defensive potential and ball-handling ability is definitely intriguing.
21.3 years old | 6’8” Forward | Bayern Munich
George enters his fifth consecutive season playing for Bayern Munich, where he has seen an increase in his playing time every single year. A strong 6’8” forward, George has been a connector piece off the bench for Bayern, doing a bit of everything on offense (shooting off the catch, finishing at the rim, moving the ball) and defense, albeit on a low number of minutes. It’s likely that his lack of one elite trait keeps him from NBA consideration, but he’s well on his way to a great pro career in Europe as a solid “glue guy” type of player.
20.2 years old | 6’6” Wing | BC Göttingen
Born in Greece, Giotis signed with Göttingen after a breakthrough campaign for Panathinaikos at the 2020 Adidas Next Generation Tournament. A strong 6’6″ wing, Giotis is able to get to the rim with his combination of size, body control and touch in tough shots. He also utilizes his gravity as a driver to find open teammates on the move and has shown to be a capable and versatile shooter at the junior levels. Giotis saw mostly garbage minutes in his first season in the Bundesliga last year, it will be interesting to see if he can find minutes at Göttingen in 2022-23.
20.6 years old | 6’6” Forward | Medi Bayreuth
Grant has been in scouts’ radars for a while, spending a number of years as one of the top prospects in Bayern Munich’s youth squads, where he stood out due to his combination of strong frame, handling flashes and shooting ability. After spending last season playing for Verona in his native Italy, Grant is back in Germany where he will provide a strong presence on the boards and a level of perimeter self-creation for Medi Bayreuth.
20.7 years old | 6’4” Wing | Syntainics Mitteldeutscher BC
One of the best prospects to come out of Benin in the last decade, Hounnou is a strong 6’4″ two-guard who has impressed over the past three seasons in Germany’s lower divisions with his ability to drive to the basket, shoot off the catch and play defense in the perimeter. Despite his lack of high-level experience being a concern, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of him having a breakthrough season at the highest level; the tools and skills are definitely there.
18.3 years old | 6’5” Wing | Fraport Skyliners Frankfurt
Versatile wing with really good size and length for the position. Onyejiaka contributes offensively with his ability to get to the rim and finish through contact, as well as his moments of reactive passing on the move. A solid perimeter defender due to his measurements and lateral mobility, the next step for Onyejiaka will be improving as a shooter, after shooting just 24% from three in the latest FIBA U18 European Championships.
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