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.

  • NBA

  • Olympics

  • 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).

Elite Level

  • 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

G-League Level

  • 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:

  1. EuroLeague

  2. Spain's Liga ACB

  3. Turkish Basketball Super League (BSL)

  4. Russia's VTB United League

  5. Germany's Basketball Bundesliga (BBL)

  6. Italy's Lega Basket Serie A (LBA)

  7. France's LNB Pro A

  8. Adriatic League (ABA)

  9. Greek A1 League

  10. Australia's National Basketball League (NBL)

  11. Lithuania's LKL

  12. 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)