• Welcome back Hoop Ballers to our International Spotlight weekly feature where we will be taking a look into this year’s international rookie class.

    With the international game and its players becoming such a large part of the NBA, the time has come to introduce you to the global prospects for the 2018 NBA Draft. This will be the first of a series of installments where I will break down the top prospects with in-depth scouting reports.

    Editor’s Note: You can get the Hoop Ball Premium Membership for FREE (normally $29.99) by signing up as a new user with DraftKings.  Check this page to see how the promotion works.

    Luka Doncic

    (Real Madrid, Liga ACB Spain), 6’8″ 220 lb. SG/SF

    The Suns now officially have the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft and both DeAndre Ayton and Luka Doncic look like the perfect fit for different reasons. While Ayton has the highest upside and is the safest prospect in the draft who projects to be a good compliment to Josh Jackson, Doncic is the cerebral player that the Suns have been missing for years. A playmaking wing with the ability to initiate the offense and execute with a high level of decision-making is not someone that many NBA teams have on their rosters. At 6’8” he is a matchup nightmare who can see passing lanes while demanding respect on the perimeter with a reliable 3-point shot.

    New head coach Igor Kokoskov led him and Goran Dragic to the 2017 EuroBasket title last year and they have a great relationship which could simplify Doncic’s transition to the NBA. Kokoskov, under the Slovenian national team, played mostly small ball with Dragic and Doncic scoring a lot of points in transition and spreading the floor while former NBAer Anthony Randolph was the rim protector.

    For anyone looking to get another look at Luka Doncic I strongly recommend watching this year’s EuroLeague final four that takes place in Belgrade starting today as the young Slovenian looks poised for another great tournament.

    Projection: Top-3 pick

    Dzanan Musa

    (KK Cedevit, Adriatic League ABA), 6’9” 195 lb. SG/SF

    Musa is a scoring wing who struggles with his decision-making and has trouble competing against bigger and more physical opponents. He has been surprisingly consistent for a 19-year-old this season and he is a solid shooter with NBA range but he struggles to contribute when his shot isn’t falling and his defense is questionable at best. His long, thin and sort of unusual body frame is a concern for some scouts, however this is an area where he could see improvement by working with the staff of an NBA team. A top offensive option for one of the best teams in the Adriatic League, he was named the ABA League’s Top Prospect while also being voted to the All-League First team.

    Finding himself in the right situation could be a key to his development as he could either develop into an efficient scorer for a championship contender or struggle to translate his game due to his lack of strength and explosive athletic ability.

    Projection: Mid-to-late first round

    Elie Okobo

    (Pau-Lacq-Orthez, LNB Pro A France) 6’3” 180 lb. G

    Okobo is an explosive left-handed combo guard with great size and length for the position who can play within a system and become a potential starter in the NBA. A late bloomer who can score with multiple ways, he is already extremely familiar with the pick-and-roll and he can get to the rim and finish at a high rate with a smooth touch. His shooting numbers are inconsistent and he is still learning how to be effective on both sides of the floor while developing the instincts that will allow him to play off-ball as well. He had a great statistical season in France this year playing approximately 26 minutes per game and he looks ready to make the jump to the NBA where his jump shot will determine whether he can stay on the floor.

    Projection: Late first to early second round

    Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk

    (Kansas) 6’8” 205 lb. SG

    Svi impressed scouts with his size and shooting ability at the Nike Hoop Summit while just 16 years old but his decision to commit to Kansas has taken a toll on his draft stock even though he earned valuable experience after playing all four years at the college level.

    He has evolved into a knock-down shooter, hitting nearly 40 percent of his shots from 3-point range as a senior, and while there are some limitations to his game as he’s pretty one dimensional, his size and ability to make plays at the rim, while not being a defensive liability, have all improved his stock in the last couple months. Svi shot the lights out during Day 1 of the NBA combine and he was hands down one of the top performers in the five-on-five scrimmages proving that his time has probably come.

    Projection: Late first to early second round

    Isaac Bonga

    (Fraport Skyliners Bundesliga, German Pro B) 6’9″ 203 lb. G

    The German prospect is one of the most intriguing international players of this draft class but he is more of a stash option rather than a ready product. His playmaking ability combined with defensive versatility, length and upside are hard to argue against but he is still very raw and he hasn’t proven himself at the highest level of competition, splitting time between their senior and junior teams. His lack of strength is not surprising and he is not the most explosive athlete, but he is a player with a ton of high-level role player potential. Bonga is an extremely gifted passer at such a young age, especially in transition, where the floor is open for him. He uses his height to read defenses and is also proficient at driving and kicking. Among the youngest players projected to be drafted in 2018, he doesn’t turn 19 until late November.

    Projection: Second round

    Goga Bitadze

    (Mega Bemax, Adriatic League), 6’11” 245 lb. C

    Bitadze is sort of a dark horse in this year’s class as he started his career as a low post player but has shown the ability to become a stretch big. The Georgian center, who was the youngest player in the 2017 EuroBasket, has good size for his position and a solid wingspan with good balance and mobility for his size. He is not a great athlete, but he is sneakily athletic, plays with passion and is not afraid of contact. He has nice footwork in the post that makes that him effective in pick-and-roll situations and by improving his midrange shot he has solidified himself as an actual threat from 15-20 feet which could be very useful at the NBA level even though he is still very inconsistent.

    He lacks explosiveness and his body has improved, but he must continue bulking up since bigger and more experienced opponents can make life difficult for him on defense while the lack of defensive versatility will hurt him in the long run.

    He played for Mega Bemax in the Adriatic League which is controlled by European super-agent Miško Ražnatović who has been extremely successful in recent years in getting his clients to the NBA. The Serbian team is a consistent source of talent and as many as nine of its players have been selected in the NBA draft since 2014 (Ivica Zubac, Nikola Jokic, Rade Zagorac, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Alpha Kaba among them).

    Projection: Second round

    Others to Look For

    Tryggvi Hlinason

    (Valencia, Liga ACB Spain)  7’1″ 255 lb. C

    The enormous center had a breakout performance at last summer’s Under-20 European Championship in Greece, averaging 16.1 points, 11.6 rebounds and 3.1 blocks in 33 minutes per game. He only started playing basketball at the age of 16 and he has made rapid improvement since, showing impressive mobility and instincts to go along with his massive frame and a 7’4”wingspan. Still at an early stage of his development, he struggled to earn minutes with one of the best teams in Europe and with limited shooting upside and athletic improvement he might withdraw this year and try to give it another chance in 2019.

    Kostas Antetokounmpo

    (Dayton) 6’10” 195 lb. PF

    Giannis’ little brother Kostas is testing the waters this year and I wouldn’t rule out the Bucks drafting him just so that they keep their franchise player happy. Kostas, just like his brother early in his career, needs to work on his body and he is projected to be more of a defensive presence with his ability to switch and protect the rim from the weak side.

    LiAngelo Ball

    (Vytautas Prienai–Birštonas, LKL Lithuania) 6’5” 216 lb. SG

    Judging LiAngelo as a prospect is really difficult after spending the last few months playing hoops in Lithuania where he has been solid. Ball is showing that he can score the ball, shooting 40 percent from the 3-point line. In reality it’s hard not to criticize his game as he had the green light to do whatever he wanted on the court, delivering empty stats and meaningless scoring numbers. His game didn’t develop at all overseas as he still can’t really create his own shot and he remains a streaky shooter and an inconsistent defender who doesn’t really do anything at a high level at this point other than score.

    Arnoldas Kulboka

    (Orlandina Basket, Serie A Italy) 6’9” 220 lb. SF

    The Lithuanian prospect is really talented and can shoot the ball but he remains inconsistent after playing his first season at a high level and getting named the Best Young Player of the Basketball Champions League (the second best tournament in Europe after the EuroLeague). The 6’10” combo forward was in the 2017 draft before removing his name from consideration but his combination of size and scoring ability is something that teams are always looking for.

    Rodions Kurucs

    (Barcelona, Liga ACB Spain) 6’10” 220 lb. SF/PF

    A 6’10” combo forward who was projected to go in the first round, he has seen his draft stock drop significantly due to injuries and a lack of playing time with EuroLeague powerhouse Barcelona. His combination of size, polished scoring instincts and versatility is attractive in today’s NBA and many scouts still consider him to be the third-best international prospect in the draft.

    The importance of the rebranded EuroCamp

    In the wake of the FBI investigation that has rocked college basketball, Adidas, a major camp organizer, will take a step back for at least a year and withdraw its support from three influential basketball programs, the EuroCamp (founded in 2003), Adidas Nations and the PATH program.

    EuroCamp has been rebranded as the NBA Elite International Camp and it will be held in Treviso, Italy at the beginning of June next month.

    Without the restrictions of sneaker affiliations, the camp should now have a much bigger pool of prospects and it won’t be hampered by the politics that prevented high-level European prospects from participating in it. The NBA will also be heavily involved, making sure the camp delivers the information front offices need in their draft decision-making process (medical info, interviews, measurements, athletic testing and scrimmages refereed by NBA-trained officials).

    It will take place just days before the early entry withdrawal deadline (June 11th) and a few weeks before the draft and it will most likely influence the draft stock of many prospects, including some of which we previewed in this article.

    Thank you for reading this article and please make sure you check us back again next week and throughout the offseason as more player breakdowns are coming up. Stay up to date on all the breaking news and rumors posted on our website and on our Twitter account @HoopBallFantasy.

Fantasy News

  • Henry Ellenson - F - Detroit Pistons

    Henry Ellenson is listed as probable for Monday's game.

    Ellenson broke his nose on Saturday in the G-League. Despite being probable, he most likely will not play anyways. He's appeared in just one game this season.

    Source: Official NBA Injury Report

  • Furkan Korkmaz - G/F - Philadelphia Sixers

    Furkan Korkmaz (lower back contusion) is listed as questionable for Monday's game vs. Phoenix.

    Korkmaz had a small stretch of good play, but with Jimmy Butler being integrated fully, Korkmaz' minutes have dipped. He's not worth owning unless an injury occurs. If he misses this game, Amir Johnson and Wilson Chandler could see a few extra minutes.

    Source: Official NBA Injury Report

  • Kosta Koufos - C - Sacramento Kings

    Kosta Koufos (right calf strain) has been ruled out for Monday's contest.

    This will be four straight games for Koufos. When he does return, he likely will be out of the rotation seeing as the Kings want to get Marvin Bagley more minutes.

    Source: James Ham on Twitter

  • Alex Abrines - G - Oklahoma City Thunder

    Alex Abrines (illness) was at shootaround and the Thunder will see how he feels before the game to see if he can play.

    He was originally out for this game, but did do shooting and non-contact drills in Sunday's practice. Coach Billy Donavan said that if Abrines is able to play, he will be a candidate to start at shooting guard, along with Hamidou Diallo. His status should be updated closer to game-time.

    Source: Brett Dawson on Twitter

  • Terrance Ferguson - G - Oklahoma City Thunder

    Terrance Ferguson (personal) is out for Monday's game.

    Ferguson was away from the team starting Saturday and we have no timetable for his return. Hamidou Diallo likely starts while Ferguson is out and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot should get extended run off the bench again.

    Source: https://twitter.com/BDawsonWrites/status/1064608740102496256

  • Russell Westbrook - G - Oklahoma City Thunder

    Russell Westbrook (personal) was at shootaround Monday and will be evaluated before Monday's game.

    Westbrook was listed on the injury report as out for personal, not his ankle, but that still is the key to coming back. He just welcomed a pair of twins into the world, but this is also around the time he could return from his ankle injury. He was initially ruled out for this game so we'd still lean that way, but he's looking like a true game-time decision. Watch for updates.

    Source: Brett Dawson on Twitter

  • Davis Bertans - F - San Antonio Spurs

    Davis Bertans (concussion protocol) has been ruled out for Monday's game.

    Bertans was expected to miss this game after missing Sunday's game. There's currently no timetable for him. His absence opens up minutes for Dante Cunningham, who will continue to start. Jakob Poeltl will get more minutes of the bench as he tries to turn around the disastrous start he's had to his San Antonio career.

    Source: Tom Orsborn on Twitter

  • Pau Gasol - C/F - San Antonio Spurs

    Pau Gasol (foot) is out for Monday's contest.

    Gasol was expected to miss all of San Antonio's roadtrip and we have not gotten word on his timetable. Dante Cunningham will continue to start, while Jakob Poeltl will get extra looks off the bench. With Rudy Gay (rest) questionable, the Spurs frontcourt could be in for some heavy lifting against Anthony Davis and co.

    Source: Tom Orsborn on Twitter

  • Rudy Gay - F - San Antonio Spurs

    Rudy Gay (rest) is questionable for Monday's game vs. New Orleans.

    Gay is a must-own player right now. He's been providing consistent mid-late round value when on the court, but knowing Gregg Popovich, he will get a few games off for rest. Check his status closer to game-time.

    Source: Tom Orsborn on Twitter

  • Kris Dunn - G - Chicago Bulls

    According to coach Fred Hoiberg, Kris Dunn (sprained MCL) has started doing straight-ahead running and there's no change in his timetable.

    The original timetable was 4-to-6 weeks and today marks the fourth week since Dunn suffered the injury. The Bulls are not rushing any of their young players back from injury, so do not expect Dunn to return soon – he's still probably a few weeks away. Over the past two weeks, Shaq Harrison has played 20.0 minutes per game off the bench and has cracked the top-120 per game value, while Ryan Arcidiacano has been starting but is barely in the top-200. Those two are the only ones worth a look while Dunn is out.

    Source: Darnell Mayberry on Twitter