May 18, 2018, 2:17 pm
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.
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(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
(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
(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
(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
(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
(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
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
June 4, 2020, 2:00 pmLeBron JamesSF, Los Angeles Lakers
The Board of Governors has approved the NBA's 22-team format to restart the 2019-20 season.
The vote was 29-1. It was widely expected that the format would get the go-ahead, even though more than one team didn't fully support the proposed plan, and the NBA has at least settled on what the season will look like once it's able to resume. They have also set the draft lottery for August 25 and the draft for October 15. The biggest hurdles remain anything that has to do with COVID-19, and to this point the league has yet to say anything about those challenges, but there is plenty of forward momentum these days.
Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter
June 3, 2020, 9:23 pmEnes KanterC, Boston Celtics
Sean Deveney reported that "multiple agents say not all players are on board with an NBA return".
One agent said, "Most of the guys are excited, fired up, they want to get back out there. Those are 95 percent of the conversations I have had". There are players that feel the money is not worth putting themselves and their families at risk. Enes Kanter weighed in on the topic, saying "there are some other team's players out there, that they don't want to play. They're like, 'It's just a game. I'm not going to risk my life". It is likely that the high-profile players will still play, but it looks like some role players may not be willing to take the risk to join their team when the NBA season resumes.
June 3, 2020, 4:39 pmDerrick RosePG, Detroit Pistons
The Pistons announced that they plan to reopen team facilities on Thursday, allowing voluntary individual workouts while following all the social-distancing guidelines.
Although the Pistons' season is likely over as they are not one of the 22 teams that will continue to play if the Board of Governors vote to ratify the plan on Thursday, this will allow players to stay in shape for the 2020-21 season which is expected to start in December.
Source: James Edwards III
June 3, 2020, 11:41 amZion WilliamsonPF, New Orleans Pelicans
Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Pelicans, Blazers, Suns, Kings, Spurs and Wizards will be the six non-playoff teams resuming action when the NBA restarts.
This makes complete sense, as they're the only non-playoff teams that can sniff the postseason. Woj backs up an earlier Shams Charania report about a potential play-in tournament for the final playoff spot in each Conference as well. If the ninth seed trails the eighth seed by more than four games when the league's truncated regular season wraps up, the eighth seed makes the playoffs. If the deficit is under four games, however, the two teams will compete in a play-in tournament that is double-elimination for the eighth seed and single-elimination for the ninth.
Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter
June 3, 2020, 11:36 amLeBron JamesSF, Los Angeles Lakers
Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the NBA will have an eight-game regular season for the purposes of playoff seeding upon its return while Shams Charania reports that there will be a play-in tournament for the eighth seed.
This applies to the NBA coming back with 22 teams, as the league's bottom eight are well out of playoff contention and bringing them to Orlando would only negatively affect the league's pursuit for player safety. As for the play-in tournament, Charania describes it as such: "If the ninth seed is more than four games behind the eighth seed, the eighth seed earns the playoff spot; if the ninth seed is four or fewer games behind, then the eighth and ninth seed will enter a play-in tournament that is double-elimination for the eighth seed and single-elimination for ninth." Expect another announcement about the league's format in the coming days.
Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter
June 2, 2020, 10:02 pmCorey BrewerSF, Sacramento Kings
Corey Brewer, a veteran of eight different NBA teams, is still hoping to sign another contract before he calls it a career.
Brewer, 34, seems to think he has enough in the tank for one final stint in the NBA. “We had some talks with a few teams, but nothing really happened. My agent is still working on it, so we’ll see,” Brewer said. “I feel like I can still help a team and I feel like I have a few good years left. But you never know, man." Brewer has not suited up for an NBA team this season and, with a waning jump shot and increased age, his chances of securing another pact in the NBA are pretty unlikely.
June 2, 2020, 9:47 pmDeMarcus CousinsC, Los Angeles Lakers
Kings broadcaster Grant Napear stepped down from his position with the Kings on Tuesday after he said 'All Lives Matter..Every Single One!' when asked about his thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement during a Twitter interaction with former Kings center DeMarcus Cousins.
This is the first domino to fall in American professional sports in relation to the Black Lives Matter movement, even if it's a relatively insignificant one. Napear said of himself and the interaction, "I’m not as educated on BLM as I thought I was. I had no idea that when I said 'All Lives Matter' that it was counter to what BLM was trying to get across," he said. "I’m in pain. I’m 60 years old and I still have a lot to learn." The Kings will evidently have to find a new play-by-play man for their radio broadcasts to accompany Doug Christie when games resume.
June 2, 2020, 8:45 pmJohn WallPG, Washington Wizards
John Wall, who has long been rumored to have absolutely zero chance of returning to the court even if the current season is resumed, said in a conference call last week that he feels "110 percent."
Wall and the Wizards both maintain that he will not return to action this season, regardless of the outcome of the vote on Thursday by the NBA Board of Governors. This is good news, obviously, for the team as they set their sights on next season. As of late, trade rumors have been swirling around the franchise's two top assets: Wall and All Star guard Bradley Beal. Moving forward, there is a high possibility that the Wizards will decide between the two, as Beal's contract will expire after next season. Which player will the Wizards keep? Who will they trade, or will they trade them both? They are hoping to have some time to evaluate how the pair plays in tandem early next season, as Wall has missed significant time with a torn left Achilles he suffered during the 2018-19 season. But it may be too late to negotiate an extension with Beal at that point, so they will have to play their cards with extreme care.
Source: The Athletic
June 2, 2020, 8:27 pmBradley BealSG, Washington Wizards
Wes Unseld, a Hall of Famer and Washington Bullets legend, passed away on Tuesday due to complications with pneumonia and other illnesses. He was 74 years old.
An outstanding rebounder, Unseld is also one of only two players to ever be awarded Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player in the same season in 1968-69. He guided the Bullets to the NBA Finals four times, winning once in 1978, a series where Unseld took home MVP honors. Hornets' GM and former teammate Mitch Kupchak said of Unseld, “As a teammate, he was tough, dependable and competitive to no end.” Unseld was a fearless competitor and highly respected across the league during his 13 seasons with the Bullets franchise. Former Knicks center and fellow Hall of Famer Willis Reed recently recalled their battles against one another, "He was most consciously a rebounder — he could shoot, but he didn’t emphasize that part of his game — and felt that if he did his job right, by getting the defensive rebound and making the quick outlet pass, they would score quickly.” Unseld was undoubtedly a pioneer for the game of basketball and means a great deal to the city of Washington D.C.
Source: Rick Bonnell on Twitter
June 2, 2020, 7:58 pmLeBron JamesSF, Los Angeles Lakers
ESPN's Adrian Wojanrowski is reporting that Adam Silver and the NBA Board of Governors, who are planning to vote Thursday on how to continue the season, would like the NBA Finals to conclude no later than October 12.
With July 31 being the widely-reported restart date and the league tentatively planning to start 𝘯𝘦𝘹𝘵 season by Christmas Day of this year, it would make sense to crown a league champion as early as possible. The meeting with the NBA Board of Governors on Thursday will (finally) bring some clarity to the rest of the NBA season, as they will hold a vote to decide how to proceed. NBA fans have been waiting since the middle of March for some resolutions. This week will provide them.
Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter