Theo Maledon

Theo Maledon Declares For Draft

Potential lottery pick Theo Maledon has submitted paperwork to become eligible for the NBA draft, writes Jonathan Givony of ESPN.

Ranked as the 15th best prospect in ESPN’s Top 100, Maledon, 18, plays in the EuroLeague and the French LNB for ASVEL. He is averaging 7.1 points and 2.3 assists in 17 minutes per game and is considered a top candidate for the EuroLeague Rising Star award. Givony notes that Luka Doncic is the only other 18-year-old in the past decade to start the majority of his team’s games in the EuroLeague.

Maledon already has an impressive resume that includes winning a gold medal in the U16 European Championship and serving as captain of the French junior national team that captured a silver medal at the FIBA U17 World Cup. Like the rest of the world, his season is on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, but he had ASVEL on top of the league at 21-4 when the shutdown began.

“Before COVID-19 stopped basketball, I was looking forward to finishing the EuroLeague season and hopefully winning the LNB Championship,” Maledon said. “Normally, the championship would have run until the second week of June so I would not have much time to train in the U.S. before the draft. Now the landscape has changed, but I have to wait like everyone else to see when and what we are able to do.

“Right now I am doing everything possible at my house to maintain my conditioning. Really all I can do is listen to the experts, the officials, and my team and stay at home. I know this is not what I expected, but knowing I will be in the NBA next year is what I am focused on. One day I will shake Commissioner Silver’s hand.”

Givony notes that Maledon’s assets include exceptional size for at point guard at 6’5″ with a 6’9″ wingspan. He’s considered a good shooter and versatile defender and may have more experience playing against top-level competition than anyone else in the draft.

And-Ones: Italy, 2020 Draft, 2021 Free Agents

The coronavirus outbreak continues to have a major impact on Italian sports, with Nicola Lupo of Sportando passing along word that all sporting events taking place in Italy through April 3 will be played behind closed doors. The Italian government, which announced those measures, also said that athletes, coaches, and other team personnel will undergo medical tests to help avoid the virus from spreading.

There aren’t as many former NBA players competing professionally in Italy right now as there are in China and some other countries around the world, but Italy is still one of Europe’s basketball hubs, featuring one EuroLeague team in Olimpia Milano. The ruling will have a major impact on what basketball games in Italy look like over the next several weeks.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Georgia guard Anthony Edwards, the country’s leading freshman scorer, ranks atop many draft experts’ big boards for 2020. John Hollinger of The Athletic breaks down Edwards’ pros and cons, arguing that despite some flaws, Edwards has a “pretty high floor” and looks like “the least-bad option in a bad draft.”
  • Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer wonders if the uninspiring crop of NCAA prospects this spring will prompt more teams to look at international draft options. Deni Avdija, Killian Hayes, and Theo Maledon are among the prospects who could appeal to NBA teams, as Tjarks details.
  • Although the 2021 free agent class looks tantalizing, many of the very best players who could hit the market that summer – including LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard – are already playing where they want to be, so it remains to be seen how much star movement there will be, writes Danny Leroux of The Athletic.
  • As Lonzo Ball tries to help push the Pelicans into the postseason and LaMelo Ball prepares for the 2020 draft, their brother LiAngelo Ball is expected to sign a G League contract soon, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Ball has been practicing with the Thunder‘s NBAGL affiliate, the Oklahoma City Blue, as of late.

And-Ones: Cuban, Draft, Maledon, 2K League

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban doesn’t mind lowering the minimum draft age from 19 to 18, but points out that it creates another set of issues, as he explained to Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News.

Cuban notes that most players out of high school don’t have general life skills, such as writing a check or signing a lease. He also sees the influence of AAU coaches and teams becoming even more pervasive if the age minimum drops.

“The really bad unintended consequence is you’re going to see AAU programs and parents push harder to get kids featured, maybe at the expense of their education, maybe at the expense of really learning how to play basketball because they’ve got coaches that are telling him, ‘Yeah, he’s got a chance to be a ‘none-and-done,'” Cuban said.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • League executives are already dreading the extra time, money, and analysis it will take to scout high school prospects, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer writes in a lengthy piece on the pros and cons of reducing the draft age minimum to 18. Eliminating the one-and-done prospects could make it tougher for lottery teams to land a marquee player, since there will likely be more steals and more busts in the draft. A system that would allow players to be selected in the draft without losing college eligibility could help the process, O’Connor adds.
  • French point guard Theo Maledon, a Tony Parker protege, could be the top international prospect in the 2020 draft. ESPN’s Mike Schmitz takes a closer look at next year’s international group and notes that the 17-year-old Maledon is now the starting point guard for ASVEL, the club Parker oversees as president. ASVEL is the first-place team among 18 in France’s top league. Maledon could become the second-ever 18-year-old EuroLeague starter, following in the footsteps of Luka Doncic, when ASVEL moves up to the prestigious league next season, Schmitz adds.
  • The NBA 2K League will begin its 18-week season on April 2 and conclude with the Finals on August 3, according to a league press release. All regular-season games will take place at the NBA 2K League Studio in Long Island City, New York, and will be live-streamed on Twitch.