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.
October 18, 2019, 2:04 amKawhi LeonardSF, Los Angeles Clippers
Kawhi Leonard checked in for Thursday's preseason finale against the Mavs and put up 13 points, three rebounds, four steals and two 3-pointers in 22 minutes.
Leonard took full advantage of some sloppy play from Luka Doncic to help make up for his poor 5-of-19 shooting performance. Kawhi's inching up closer to the middle points of the first round in fantasy drafts, and where you select him depends entirely on your tolerance for potential nights off.
October 18, 2019, 2:02 amLandry ShametSG, Los Angeles Clippers
Despite 37 minutes in Thursday's preseason game, Landry Shamet finished with five points, two rebounds, two assists, two steals, a 3-pointer and a 2-of-10 shooting line.
The Clippers look prepared to give Shamet major minutes this season on the wing and at point guard, but his preseason play has been lackluster. We're going to chalk this up to a weirdly-timed slump and continue drafting Shamet in the later rounds of all drafts.
October 18, 2019, 2:00 amPatrick BeverleyPG, Los Angeles Clippers
Patrick Beverley (calf) and Lou Williams (rest) sat out of Thursday's preseason game with the Mavs.
No need for the Clippers, who figure to do lots of load managing, to force either of their vets through a meaningless game. Beverley's calf injury is suspected to be minor but we'll keep an eye on it as the season approaches.
October 18, 2019, 1:53 amJustin JacksonSF, Dallas Mavericks
Justin Jackson notched 18 points off the bench in Thursday's 102-87 win over the Clippers, adding six rebounds and three triples to round out his game.
Jackson ends his preseason on a strong note and it looks like he'll hold a solid rotation role for Dallas, and may even start if the forward core suffers injuries. That said, he's always been a weak fantasy play and would need immense volume to change anyone's mind.
October 18, 2019, 1:51 amMoses BrownC, Portland Trail Blazers
The Blazers have converted Moses Brown's training camp deal into a two-way contract.
It's a nice climb for Brown, who went undrafted out of UCLA. Portland's center depth could be tested if Hassan Whiteside misses time because of his sprained ankle but we'd be surprised if Brown saw much action at the NBA level this year.
Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter
October 18, 2019, 1:41 amDorian Finney-SmithSF, Dallas Mavericks
Neither Dorian Finney-Smith (hip flexor) nor Seth Curry (right knee contusion) played in Thursday's preseason finale.
There's no reason for the Mavs to push either player through this, though we'll keep an eye out for updates before the real games begin. Both figure to be important reserves and should be able to deliver top-250 value in fantasy, if that means anything to you.
October 18, 2019, 1:39 amKristaps PorzingisPF-C, Dallas Mavericks
Kristaps Porzingis needed only 23 minutes to produce 18 points, 13 rebounds, a block and a 3-pointer in Thursday's preseason win over the Clippers.
Luka Doncic, not to be outdone, added 13 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and four 3-pointers of his own, though nine turnovers were pretty ugly. It wasn't always pretty but it's obvious that this young dynamic duo will threaten early-round value for as long as they're on the court. How much they're on the court, Porzingis is particular, is the question.
October 18, 2019, 1:37 amDelon WrightPG, Dallas Mavericks
Delon Wright put a fitting end to a quiet preseason on Thursday, scoring six points with three rebounds, two assists and two 3-pointers in 22 minutes of action.
Wright was looking like a major breakout candidate but a poor preseason looks to have took some wind out of his sails. We still believe in his ability to rack up defensive stats out of a guard spot and his solid middle-round upside, so Wright's still worth a look sometime after pick No. 80.
October 18, 2019, 1:34 amJalen BrunsonPG, Dallas Mavericks
Jalen Brunson (sore left hamstring) posted six points, five rebounds, seven assists and a steal in 15 minutes on Thursday night.
Brunson started next to Delon Wright, which is something to remember in case the Mavs deal with injuries that force them to reshuffle the starting five during the year. He's only a deep-league option but did have some stints of relevance last season, so he's not someone to completely write off if injuries strike.
October 18, 2019, 12:44 amGiannis AntetokounmpoPF, Milwaukee Bucks
Giannis Antetokounmpo blitzed the Wolves in Thursday's preseason win, racking up 26 points, 14 rebounds, two steals, three blocks and a 3-pointer in 27 minutes of work.
It's safe to say Giannis is ready for the regular season and is locked in as a top-5 pick in all formats. He went 9-of-15 from the field and a solid 7-of-9 from the line, and if that kept up all season fantasy players would be overjoyed. There's not much else to take from this one. Khris Middleton also had a good game with 18 points and seven assists.