Orlando Magic 2019 NBA Draft Preview: The buzz around Sekou Doumbouya, Goga Bitadze

BERLIN, GERMANY - MAY 14: Sekou Doumbouya, #14 of U18 Insep Paris during the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Basketball Adidas Next Generation Tournament game U18 Mega Bemas Belgrade v U18 INSEP Paris at Sportforum on May 14, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Patrick Albertini/EB via Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - MAY 14: Sekou Doumbouya, #14 of U18 Insep Paris during the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Basketball Adidas Next Generation Tournament game U18 Mega Bemas Belgrade v U18 INSEP Paris at Sportforum on May 14, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Patrick Albertini/EB via Getty Images) /

This year’s draft class does not feature many international prospects. The two big ones — Sekou Doumbouya and Goga Bitadze — have clear fits in the NBA.

The crop of international players entering the 2019 NBA Draft is not good.

There are no runaway hits like Luka Doncic, a Euroleague MVP and perhaps the most accomplished international prospect ever to enter the NBA Draft, or athletic marvels with grainy tape or players who played for big teams off the bench in minimal minutes and not a lot of information. At least, not at the top of the draft.

This year does not have a ton of international players aiming for the first round. Most of the players will get picked as draft-and-stash players at the end of the second round. This is not the draft for a heavy international presence.

The league has gotten better about evaluating and researching international players now. There is not likely to be another Giannis Antetokounmpo who slips all the way through the cracks as he did.

Then again. . . there are at least two players who clearly have a ton of talent who have shown themselves in some high-level basketball leagues that teams still do not have a complete grasp on. They could go anywhere in the Lottery to deep in the 20s. Teams are still getting their handle on these guys.

Remember, Orlando Magic general manager John Hammond drafted Giannis Antetokounmpo with the 15th overall pick. It is doubtful another player of that prodigious talent gets passed over that long again.

The next approximation from overseas though is sitting right there. And another big man that is incredibly intriguing also figures into the biggest question of the draft.

The evaluations of Sekou Doumboya of France and Goga Bitadze of the Republic of Georgia are perhaps the biggest questions of the draft. Neither player is considered to be a runaway superstar. Both have the physical gifts scouts like to see but they also add plenty of skill they have shown already. It is hard to peg where they will end up when the draft is said and done.

Doumboya was one of the most talked-about prospects from France for several years. The 6-foot-9 forward has incredible length, with an 8-foot-11 standing reach. His physical measurements alone have a lot of NBA teams excited.

He broke onto the scene with France at the FIBA U18 European Championship in 2016. He averaged 17.8 points per game and 7.0 rebounds per game in that competition, looking like the class of his age group.

With Limoges CSP in France last year, he averaged 7.5 points and 3.2 rebounds per game in limited minutes. He had a game where he scored 30-plus points earlier this season. Doumbouya is still a fairly raw talent but there are plenty of contours to his game.

And in that body, that is increasingly enticing.

Especially when he gets out into the open floor. He is really good in transition and can handle the ball well on the break. This is where he uses his athleticism and length at its best.

His skills in the half court still need some work. But that is more about getting experience and growing into his body. He has a nice jumper and an array of moves he can use, especially against smaller players. It is easy watching his tape to see what his game might one day become.

His length allows him to make plays defensively. He just has to improve his technique.

Doumbouya is all potential, similar to Antetokounmpo was except in a bit of a smaller package.

He can do the simple things really well right now and it is about having him continue to grow into his body, put together more of those skills. Doumbouya’s success in the league will be dependent on his willingness to work and the situation he gets drafted to.

With Doumbouya likely going in the top-10 of this draft, teams are not missing out on another long-armed, young international prospect who has burst onto the scene again. He has the talent to turn into a really solid player. But he has to put the skills together.

While Doumbouya looks like what the future of the league may be — or at least a copy of the league’s current MVP — Bitadze looks a little bit more like a throwback big.

The 6-foot-11 center from the Republic of Georgia has the look of a lot of the centers that have come from Europe lately. He is sort of in the Arvydas Sabonis/Nikola Jokic model. A big who can work the post, but can pop out to the perimeter and shoot 3-pointers too.

Jusuf Nurkic is the most common comparison the draft sites have given to him. He is a banger who can use his weight on the block and is not afraid to get physical in the post. But he can also step out and hit set 3-point shots too, something Nurkic does not do. That is a necessary skill for young centers.

Bitadze is not built like a tank. He can move a little bit, but he is not overly athletic. He is not going to come out of anywhere to block shots. But give him the position and he can use his length and size to contest shots and block shots with his man in front of him. He has a lot of solid and useable skills.

For Mega Bemax in Serbia last year, Bitadze averaged 15.9 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. The Adriatic Basketball Association is a solid league, not one to look too far past, but not the best league in the world. They did not compete in Eurobasket. So it is still unclear what he could do on the biggest stage against the best competition.

But it is easy to see watching him why he might be intriguing as a solid backup big man option. He can play well in a limited role very clearly. And Bitadze can still continue to improve as he enters a NBA workout regimen.

Doumbouya and Bitadze both represent the best European prospects in this year’s draft. They are solid players but still young guys with a lot of room to grow.

But really both present solid opportunities to add quality players to any roster.

Doumbouya has a lot more potential as he figures out how to piece together his talent with his growing body. He could be a really strong player if he continues to develop and finds the right situation to develop him.

Bitadze has a lot of innate skills for a big man. He can work the post and hold his position well while adding the jumper to help spread the floor. Bitadze has to continue to mature both physically and emotionally, as reports suggest he lets frustration get the better of him at times.

Next. Nassir Little enticing, but not what Magic need. dark

But they both are clearly players who can find a place in the NBA and contribute. They may be the only major international prospects in this draft, but they fit right in to the direction the league is going.