The Future of Spanish Talent in the NBA: Historic Draft Predictions for Izan Almansa, Aday Mara, Baba Miller, and Juan Nez

The NBA Season with the Fewest Spaniards in 18 Years

By Nacho Duque

Updated: November 6, 2023 – 15:58 CET

The current NBA season has seen a decline in the number of Spanish players participating, with only three Spaniards currently active. Santi Aldama made a promising debut with the Grizzlies, while Usman Garuba is yet to make his debut with the Warriors. Ricky Rubio, on the other hand, is struggling with mental health issues and remains inactive for the Cavaliers. However, there is hope for a brighter future with a new wave of Spanish talent expected to enter the league soon.

According to draft forecasts, the next edition of the NBA draft could feature four Spaniards: Izan Almansa, Aday María, Baba Miller, and Juan Nez. This would be a historic moment for Spanish basketball, as the previous record was three Spaniards selected in a single draft. Ricky Rubio, Víctor Claver, and Sergio Llull achieved this feat in 2009. The four young prospects mentioned earlier are expected to be among the top 24 picks.

Jonathan Givony, a renowned ESPN analyst specializing in young talents, has prepared a list predicting the draft order. According to his forecast, Almansa is projected to be the ninth pick, María the twelfth, Miller the nineteenth, and Nez the twenty-fourth. If these predictions come true, it would be a significant milestone for Spanish basketball.

Izan Almansa: The MVP Hoarder

All four prospects are highly regarded in the United States. Almansa, an 18-year-old forward standing at 2.08 meters, has gained recognition for his impressive collection of MVP awards. He won the U17 World Cup and was instrumental in Spain’s success in the U19 World Cup and U18 Eurobasket. His physical abilities make him a top prospect, with few forecasts placing him outside the top 14 picks.

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Aday María: Following in the Footsteps of UCLA Legends

Aday María is set to make his debut with the historic UCLA. The 18-year-old center, standing at 2.21 meters, is already attracting attention in the NCAA. Despite not having played a game yet, he is among the top 20 candidates for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar award, which recognizes the best center in the competition. María impressed NBA scouts with his game vision, passing ability, and mobility for his height during the U17 World Cup held in Malaga.

María left Casademont Zaragoza to pursue his dream in Los Angeles, following in the footsteps of legends like Jabbar, Bill Walton, and Kevin Love. This move will provide him with more visibility and bring him closer to his goal of playing in the NBA.

Baba Miller: An Elite Defender

Baba Miller is entering his second season in the NCAA, and this will be his first complete season. The 19-year-old, 7-foot-1 forward will play for Florida State. In the previous year, he faced a 16-game suspension for accepting payment for a flight. Now, as a U19 world champion and fully integrated into the team, he is expected to make a significant impact. Miller possesses exceptional defensive skills and can match up against any opponent despite his height, thanks to his mobility and size. He also has offensive capabilities and excels in rebounding.

Juan Nez: Making Waves in Germany

Juan Nez, another product of Real Madrid’s youth academy like Almansa and Miller, is making a name for himself in the German Easy Credit BBL. At 19 years old and standing at 1.92 meters, Nez is currently the eighth most valued player (20.0), second in steals (3.0), seventh in assists (5.8), and averaging 14.4 points per game. His impressive performances in international competitions, combined with his fast and creative style of play, have caught the attention of NBA scouts. In his second season in Germany, he has become a key player for Ratiopharm Ulm, the current league champion and one of the top teams in the Eurocup.

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essional and have devastated. They have won grand tours, Monuments… but that is not normal. People have to understand that this is not a youth competition. Young people must be given time to develop, to mature and to learn little by little. It cannot be demanded that all the young people who arrive have the same impact as those I have named before. You have to give them margin and patience.

With everything you’ve experienced, what advice would you give to young cyclists starting out now?

Enjoy. Let them enjoy what they do because this is a passion. Be persistent in your goals. That they are constant and make an effort in their daily work. Let them learn from their mistakes, because this is continuous learning. Let them be humble and value their colleagues and the people who help them. In short, they should be good athletes and good people.

And what plans do you have for the future?

Now I’m going to take some time to disconnect. I have been training a kid in the lower categories and I would have liked to continue, but with the knowledge that I am going to acquire with sports management, I could still have a position on a team. The idea is to take a more advanced course and be able to help the youth team and continue enjoying cycling from another perspective, from the car. And, of course, being with the family, now is the time to dedicate more time to them and enjoy them.

Enric Mas, Nairo Quintana, Alejandro Valverde, Andrés Iniesta… A long list of names he has had as teammates. This year he will also have to live with Miguel Indurain in the tribute that will be held for him at the Vuelta.

Listen to me, I have all my admiration for him. I admire him a lot. I think it represents a lot. I know him, he has directed me on several occasions, we have gone by car together… he is a person who awakens admiration, respect and affection in me. He is a phenomenon. I think it will be one more suffering among the sufferings I have in life. He has a lot to give and he is going to leave us with our mouths open on some things.

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2 Responses

  1. “Exciting times lie ahead for Spanish basketball as Izan Almansa, Aday Mara, Baba Miller, and Juan Nez showcase their potential in NBA drafts. With their unique blend of skill, athleticism, and determination, they could revolutionize the game and pave the way for a new era of Spanish talent in the league. Keep an eye out for these rising stars as they make their mark on the global stage!”

  2. “Exciting times ahead for Spanish basketball! With promising talent like Izan Almansa, Aday Mara, Baba Miller, and Juan Nez, the future of Spanish basketball in the NBA looks brighter than ever. Can’t wait to witness these historic draft predictions turn into reality. Go Spain!”

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