September 7, 2018, 6:20 pm
Welcome back Hoop Ballers to our International Spotlight weekly feature where, in the next few weeks, we will be taking a look at all the international players around the league and their outlook for the upcoming season.
Manu Ginobili decided to call it a career this offseason but the global aspect of the game is becoming an increasingly integral part of the success the NBA has in recent years. During last season’s NBA postseason there was a record 62 foreign-born players from 33 countries chasing a championship ring while all 16 teams competing in the playoffs had at least one international player, with the Jazz and the Sixers leading the way with seven foreign-born players each.
Here is a closer look into the Atlantic Division.
Daniel Theis, PF/C, 26 years old, Germany
The undrafted German big came out of nowhere last year and managed to rank among the league leaders for first-year players in a number of categories such as rebounds and field goal percentage, even though he was playing just 15 minutes per contest before going down with a torn meniscus. Theis’ recovery is progressing well as he recently begun cutting and one-on-one but although he was hoping to start participating in basketball activities at some point in September he is still not ready for training camp and the Celtics will obviously be very cautious with him.
He is a great glue guy as a strong rebounder with a knack for second chance opportunities and best suited as a complementary piece in a dynamic offense, which the Celtics have. Unfortunately he will now have to compete with both Aron Baynes and rookie Robert Williams for backup center minutes and he isn’t expected to have any fantasy impact, especially at the beginning of the year as a result of the injury.
Guerschon Yabusele, PF, 22 years old, France
Yabusele came out of the Las Vegas Summer League claiming his time was beneficial and positive, specifically emphasizing the opportunity to play both the 4 and the 5 position. The young forward looked more comfortable and as he is entering his second season with the Celtics it looks like he is still adjusting to the complicated offensive system of Brad Stevens. The team is trying to develop him into a playmaking big just like Al Horford and he still needs to shed some weight but his role is a complete unknown at this point. With Gordon Hayward returning to action there won’t be many minutes available to him at the power forward position unless the Celtics make a trade.
Dzanan Musa, SG/SF, 19 years old, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Rodions Kurucs, SF, 20 years old, Latvia
The Nets made it clear that they want long, versatile wings on their roster and that’s exactly what they got in Musa, a highly confident scoring wing who can shoot from outside or finish with either hand at the rim, and Kurucs, a forward with above average ball handling skills and a nice touch around the rim. Neither of these guys can help on defense though, as their fundamentals still need a lot of work.
Brooklyn has tried to increase their pace and shoot as many threes as possible over the past few years so I expect Musa to be able to help with that immediately as their offense will give him the chance to fire away from the 3-point line. He was one of the best guys on the board available at the end of the first round and the reason he fell was because teams thought he wasn’t ready to make the jump to the NBA this year so he will be eager to prove many people wrong. Kurucs on the other hand should spend most of his time in the G-League.
NEW YORK KNICKS
Mario Hezonja, SF/PF, 23 years old, Croatia
It took a while but Hezonja finally showed what he is capable of in the absence of Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier in the second half of the season last year when he was a top-75 fantasy asset in 9-cat formats. The Knicks are high on him and he has the potential to be a mid-round asset this year if he can settle into a sizable role which looks very possible in what appears to be a rebuilding season for New York.
Enes Kanter, C, 26 years old, Turkey
Kanter provided great offense with the Knicks last season, averaging 14.1 points and 11.0 rebounds in only 25.8 minutes per game. He is a known commodity at this point and his inability to play defense or shoot from deep limits the amount of minutes he can play against modern pace and space teams but what’s more alarming this season is the presence of Mitchell Robinson, the player who helped his stock the most in Summer League.
The rookie averaged 4.0 blocks per game, the most ever recorded in Summer League, and added 13.0 points and 10.2 rebounds in 24.7 minutes per game while shooting 66.7 percent from the field. He will be a popular late-round sleeper pick for his ability to rack up big man stats in limited minutes and David Fizdale will likely give him playing time, potentially limiting Kanter’s value, in a season where the Knicks are not expected to compete for the playoffs while Kristaps Porzingis is recovering from a torn ACL.
Frank Ntilikina, PG, 20 years old, France
The French youngster is entering a crucial year where he will have to prove whether or not he is a full-time starting-caliber point guard. His Summer League presence was a mixed bag as he only played in the Knicks’ first two games after sustaining a groin injury which isn’t considered serious although health has been an issue in his short career. Fizdale plans to keep Ntilikina at the point guard position and has been adamant about challenging him to play more selfishly on the offensive end of the floor.
He will still have to compete with Trey Burke and Emmanuel Mudiay for the starting job but he finds himself caught in an organizational battle as he was Phil Jackson’s pick and the new regime brought in Burke who had an impressive end of the season. Training camp should give us a better understanding of the point guard situation in New York but he’s worth the gamble just for his strong defensive stats.
Joel Embiid, C, 24 years old, Cameroon
Embiid is going to sneak into the first round of a lot of drafts after a very impressive season in which he averaged 22.9 points, 11.0 rebounds, 1.8 blocks and 1.0 triples in a career-best 63 games. However, we still don’t know if his body can hold up for over 70 games a season while his impact on percentages is fairly neutral (career 47.8 from the field and 77.4 from the free throw line) and he is easily one of the most turnover-prone big man (3.7 per game). Beyond the potential health risks, proceed with caution if that category is one you care about.
Dario Saric, PF, 24 years old, Croatia
The Croatian forward outperformed last year’s expectations by returning top-80 value and a strong top-55 finish. A historically streaky shooter, Saric transformed into one of the most efficient 3-point makers at his position, hitting 39.3 percent from deep, while growing as a scorer and using his strength to carve out space and score in the paint. The Sixers brought in Wilson Chandler but his role shouldn’t be affected and he is now an integral part of Brett Brown’s system that should compete for the top seed in the East.
Furkan Korkmaz, SG, 21 years old, Turkey
The former 26th pick in the 2016 NBA Draft played really well in Las Vegas, averaging 16.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 2.0 assists in 25 minutes per while the Sixers traded away the two guys who he would’ve competed with for minutes (Justin Anderson and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot). On paper, there might finally be a path for him getting some minutes, as the team also lost Marco Belinelli in free agency and is in need of a scorer who can come off the bench, but the rumor is that Jamal Crawford will sign with the Sixers once they are able to part ways with Jerryd Bayless.
Jonah Bolden, PF/C, 22 years old, Australia
A subpar Summer League by the Aussie had many wondering if he would end up playing in Philadelphia this year but the Sixers are really high on him and they ended up trading away Richaun Holmes in order to sign him to a four-year deal. He has shown the ability to be a solid defender but he really didn’t put up great numbers in Europe last season and finding minutes in Philadelphia is still going to be tough with veterans Amir Johnson and Mike Muscala ahead of him in the depth chart.
Serge Ibaka, PF/C, 28 years old, Democratic Republic of Congo
Ibaka played in a solid 76 games last season (given his injury history) and returned top-75 value in 9-cat leagues, but a move to the bench is in play with Kawhi Leonard joining the Raptors. Even though Ibaka isn’t the shot blocker that he once was in Oklahoma City, he still does a great job at protecting the rim but he functions better as a center and has struggled playing alongside Jonas Valanciunas.
The Raptors will have to make a decision about whether to start him or OG Anunoby next to Kawhi and the truth of the matter is that Ibaka could help space the floor and eat up the departed Jakob Poeltl’s minutes in the second unit. He seems likely to take a step back in fantasy but not everything is negative about a potential role change for Ibaka as the minutes will still be there.
Jonas Valanciunas, C, 26 years old, Lithuania
Nick Nurse, the Raptors’ new head coach, was the driving force in expanding JV’s game last season by spending time working with the big man who took strides in shooting, playmaking and mobility. It’s no secret that Dwane Casey never trusted Valanciunas with big minutes but perhaps that changes under Nurse and he could push towards 30 minutes per game. He also should benefit from the defensive presence of Kawhi and I expect him to be a rock solid middle-round play with potential to sneak up into comfortable middle-round territory.
Pascal Siakam, PF/C, 24 years old, Cameroon
Siakam has improved at an exponential rate every year going back to his senior year in high school in Texas through his freshman and sophomore years in college. Even though his limitations are obvious, he appears to have the mental toughness and the proper attitude it takes to have long term success in the NBA.
The Raptors have allowed their young players to develop and Dwayne Casey crafted a role for his young forward last season by letting him be a point-forward who challenges defenses. Siakam responded and has been excellent at finding the open man after DHO’s or pick-and-rolls, averaging a career-high 1.8 assists per contest last year while the departure of Jakob Poeltl only helps. He is in line for consistent minutes and the future looks bright while he should absolutely be in your radar in dynasty leagues as he is an injury or a trade away from becoming a starter in the league.
Thank you for reading this article and please check us back again next week as we examine the international players in the Central Division. Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @philysstar and stay up to date on all the breaking news and rumors posted on our website and on our Twitter account @HoopBallFantasy.
February 20, 2019, 8:07 amSpencer Dinwiddie - G - Brooklyn Nets
Kenny Atkinson was noncommittal about whether Spencer Dinwiddie would be back by the time the Nets embark on a 7-city, 17-day road trip that starts on March 13th.
Dinwiddie is still recovering from thumb surgery he had on January 28th but he’s been working out on the court, dribbling with his off hand. Just to be clear, there hasn’t been an official medical update from the Nets yet so this is more of speculation on Atkinson’s part. With fantasy playoffs rapidly approaching, managers will have to make a tough decision on whether to hold on to Dinwiddie, but we should have a more concrete update on his status at some point in the next few days.
Source: Brian Lewis on Twitter
February 20, 2019, 12:35 amDwight Howard - C - Washington Wizards
Dwight Howard will return to Washington D.C. and start on-court work on Wednesday.
Dwight has been recovering from November spine surgery, and it's good to see him progressing. He's still a few steps away from playing, and with the injuries he's been dealing with this season, it's hard to see him being useful outside of deep free throw punt teams. More likely, the greatest impact he'll have is eventually taking a few minutes from Thomas Bryant and Bobby Portis.
Source: Shams Charania on Twitter
February 19, 2019, 9:22 pmHenry Ellenson - F - New York Knicks
Henry Ellenson plans to sign a 10-day contract with the Knicks.
Ellenson has shown promise at times, but he has never really put together any fantasy-relevant stretches. Leave him on the wire for now, but it's not impossible to imagine a scenario where the tanking Knicks are missing or sitting a couple bigs, giving Ellenson some decent run.
Source: Shams Charania on Twitter
February 19, 2019, 8:29 pmClint Capela - C - Houston Rockets
Clint Capela (thumb) returned to practice on Tuesday with no limitations, which could determine his playing status for Thursday's game against the Lakers.
Capela underwent surgery on January 17 and was initially given a 4-to-6 week timetable, so this would be at the early end of a return. The fact that he is returning to practice without any limitations is a great sign for owners, meaning a return is imminent. Watch out for the Rockets injury report on Wednesday.
Source: Jonathan Feigen on Twitter
February 19, 2019, 7:36 pmJodie Meeks - G - Toronto Raptors
Jodie Meeks is signing a 10-day contract with the Raptors, per Adrian Wojnarowski.
Meeks was waived by the Bucks following the conclusion of his 25-game suspension for violating the league's anti-drug program. He hasn't played since last season with Washington and is unlikely to see much action with Toronto. He'll give the team some extra shooting when he does see the floor.
Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter
February 19, 2019, 4:41 pmJared Dudley - F - Brooklyn Nets
Jared Dudley (left hamstring strain) was scheduled to be re-evaluated on Tuesday.
Dudley has already made it known that he's planning to return right out of the All-Star break, so unless today's checkup revealed some kind of further issue we're expecting him to be ready for Brooklyn's two games this week. His biggest fantasy impact will be taking minutes from more intriguing players.
Source: Greg Logan on Twitter
February 19, 2019, 4:39 pmCaris LeVert - G - Brooklyn Nets
Caris LeVert will undergo an evaluation from the Nets medical staff on Tuesday.
There's no sign of any setbacks from LeVert but the team will obviously keep a close eye on him after he's returned from a dislocated foot. This shouldn't be anything more than routine maintenance, so fantasy owners don't need to worry about it.
Source: Greg Logan on Twitter
February 19, 2019, 4:33 pmRay Spalding - F - Phoenix Suns
The Suns are expected to sign Ray Spalding to a 10-day contract.
Spalding was the 56th pick in last summer's draft but only appeared in one NBA game this season with the Mavs. He was waived at the trade deadline with Dallas taking on one more player than they sent away, and will look to make an impression in a crowded Phoenix rotation. His college numbers (12.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.7 blocks in 27.7 minutes per game) make him a name to file away in deep dynasty leagues.
Source: Gina Mizell on Twitter
February 19, 2019, 11:44 amMarShon Brooks - G - Chicago Bulls
Marshon Brooks has agreed to terms with the Guangdong Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association, according to Sportando.
Brooks played 29 games for the Grizzlies this season averaging 6.6 points and he is expected to replace Malcolm Delaney. Leave him on the waiver wire.
February 19, 2019, 11:35 amKristaps Porzingis - F/C - Dallas Mavericks
Mark Cuban said that Kristaps Porzingis won't play this season, even if the Mavs somehow are able to make the playoffs.
The Mavs want to put their world-class training staff, led by Casey Smith, to work, strengthening Porzingis’ body the rest of this season and throughout the summer to hopefully prevent similar injuries in the future. And after all, given the amount of money the Mavs could be committing to KP this summer, a max salary of $158 million, there is no need to risk something happening to him in a season where making the playoffs seems unlikely. Kristaps remains a great stash in redraft leagues.