1. Luka Samanic (F): Croatia
Luka Samanic is a Croatian professional basketball player, most recently playing for Petrol Olimpija of the Slovenian League and ABA League. At 6’11”, 220 pounds, Samanic is a combo power forward who is still only 19 years old. Samanic is one of the smartest players in the entire draft class, boasting an extremely high basketball IQ.
Like many other European players, Samanic is a big who can stretch the floor and can improve the fluidity of an offense. He is a very natural player who has a very easy-going type of play style.
Per ProBallers, Samanic averaged 6.0 points and 3.6 rebounds last season. While these numbers aren’t great, that doesn’t mean a whole lot considering how different the play-style is overseas. For example, Luka Doncic only averaged 12.8 points per game his final European season, then scored much more at the NBA level in his rookie year. Samanic has a good-looking 3-point shot and has had success scoring from deep overseas.
The area of concern with him is his defensive ability. Although he is athletic and has the size to thrive on the offensive end, his frame is not ideal to guard the athletic, physical players in the NBA. He will need to put the time in the weight room and fill out his body prior to his first NBA season.
Samanic may not slip to the second round, but if he does he has the potential to be a big-time steal at his position. He projects to be a great stretch power forward at the next level.