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Europe remains alluring, remains a risk for NBA teams

One of the NBA’s most intriguing draft prospects will get taken in the lottery, but he will not be in the NBA next year.

Chad Ford of ESPN.com reports Croatian point forward Dario Saric has signed a two-year deal with Anadolu Efes in Turkey. That likely means whoever drafts Saric will have to wait for him to come to the NBA for two years. It likely means that he did not have a top-10 promise that would have made it financially smart for Saric to come over.

Saric is a 6-foot-10 forward with guard-like ball handling skills and decent speed for a guy his size. He is the prototypical European forward. His fundamentals are sound although he is not elite at very much. This is a talented and young player. Two more years in Europe will only continue to help him develop. Patience though will be the key for whoever drafts him.

That brings you to the other European prospect likely to go in the first round — Jusuf Nurkic.

Nurkic has drawn comparisons to Nikola Pekovic for his size and solid skills around the basket. He is expected to be a burly defender and physical presence.

But, he too is thought to have his eye on staying in Europe. Unlike Saric, he probably could use it. Whether he will still seems to be up in the air. A team is drafting him at their own peril.

It is not surprising to see European players continue to have options in Europe and chose it ahead of the U.S. and the NBA. It is asking a lot of young men to leave the country they have lived in their entire lives and arrive in a new place. Often, too, they can make more money in Europe rather than playing under the salary-controlled NBA Draft.

David Blatt went from an esteemed career in Euroleague with Macabbi Tel Aviv to head coach of the Cavs. Photo by AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis

NBA teams continue to have to weigh that risk. And that risk will only get bigger as European leagues get more competitive and comparable to the NBA. There are still no American players opting to stay in Europe as young players with their whole careers ahead of them rather than stay in the NBA. There are only short dalliances like Brandon Jennings in Rome or Jeremy Tyler in Israel. Their plan was always to return to their homes.

Even coaches now are beginning to come overseas with Ettore Messina as a special consultant for the Lakers (now the Spurs) and now David Blatt as the head coach for the Cavaliers.

The European influence on the NBA is growing more and more. Yet, the best players are always going to want to play at home. And Europe’s best players will come over as finished products and not as developing youngsters. They continue to develop on the continent.

This year’s crop is no different. And that means the best teams will always have the best European scouting. Few teams rebuilding will take the risk and few have the patience to wait for them to come over and deliver on the investment. Not to mention, a fully developed player does not want to wait through rebuilding.

Minnesota lost key years with Kevin Love waiting for Ricky Rubio come over. These are franchise-changing decisions.

It is all part of the calculus that comes with drafting international in the end. Good luck to the teams that select Saric and Nurkic. That is an investment that may not pay off immediately.

[h/t Kurt Helin of Pro Basketball Talk]

Philip Rossman-Reich

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily

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