• Welcome back Hoop Ballers to our International Spotlight continuous feature where we take a look at all the international players around the league and their outlook for the upcoming season. We examined the Atlantic Division in the first part of this mini-feature and how the coaching change and the addition of Kawhi Leonard will affect the value of Serge Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas in an entirely different way.

    Here is a closer look into the Central Division:

    CHICAGO BULLS

    Omer Asik, C, 32 years old, Turkey

    The Turkish big man is set to earn north of $22 million over the next couple seasons and owns an early termination option that he is unlikely to execute during the 2019-20 season. Bulls fans should expect to see a good amount of him sitting on the bench unless the front office is somehow able to negotiate a buyout or find a taker for his pseudo-expiring contract. He is nowhere close to fantasy radars and with the Bulls adding Wendell Carter Jr. in this year’s draft he will only provide insurance in case any of the other bigs gets injured.

    Cristiano Felicio, C, 26 years old, Brazil

    The ugliest mark still on the books for the Bulls is the guaranteed $24 million-plus GM Gar Forman handed out to Cristiano Felicio a couple years ago. Even though his minutes went up last season (solely due to tanking), his rebounding numbers regressed (4.2 per game), he can’t block any shots (0.2 per game) and he is still committing more fouls than ever before (1.9 per game). Felicio doesn’t do much to protect the basket while the fancy footwork and lateral quickness that made him a solid perimeter defender has vanished and the numbers are brutal as the Bulls, with Felicio’s net rating the worst on the team among players who were actually members of the rotation. The number surplus of big men on the roster also doesn’t help Felicio’s case while Bobby Portis has clearly surpassed him in the rotation.

    Lauri Markannen, PF/C, 21 years old, Finland

    The Finnish product possesses a nice physique and added considerable muscle during the summer without losing any of his mobility. He isn’t afraid of contact, he knows how to stay with his man and his NBA-ready body has led to him being an above average defensive rebounder. His usage will most likely go down with Zach LaVine and Jabari Parker in the lineup and while their presence might create more open shots for him I wouldn’t expect a drastic change to his numbers. The Bulls absolutely need his floor spacing as the team didn’t really improve in that area while the word is that Fred Hoiberg will allow him to play more as a five in order to exploit potential mismatches. He looks like a solid middle-round asset but I can hardly envision him cracking the top-50.

    CLEVELAND CAVALIERS

    Cedi Osman, SF, 23 years old, Turkey

    Cedi dominated in Summer League in just a couple games with the Cavs, showing some much needed leadership skills and the ability to hit the pull-up three. He has been building momentum with the Turkish national team as well and it appears that his game is slowly developing. Kyle Korver reportedly helped him with his stroke last year in Cleveland and the Turkish forward is undoubtedly a breakout candidate this upcoming season. The Cavs have said that they want to run and that’s something that fits Cedi’s game but he will have to make his shots and avoid fouling too much in order to win the starting job. He is definitely someone worth taking a flier in the later rounds but keep an eye on him during the preseason as his ADP should jump considerably if he enters the starting lineup.

    Ante Zizic, C, 21 years old, Croatia

    The 21-year-old center looked extremely comfortable in a couple games in Las Vegas and he could see an expanded role if the Cavs fall out of playoff contention but for now he is just a backup center who could have a hard time keeping up with the up-tempo offense that Tyron Lue wants to develop this year. The Croatian big is a relentless rebounder on both ends of the floor and he possesses the physical tools to dominate in the paint but he is a slow, immobile body has always been better at defending space and not PnR situations, making him an underwhelming rim protector who doesn’t offer many blocks.

    DETROIT PISTONS

    Jose Calderon, PG, 36 years old, Spain

    Zaza Pachulia, C, 34 years old, Georgia

    Both veterans were signed in order to provide leadership and insurance in case of injuries but Pachulia might actually have to play at the beginning of the season due to Jon Leuer recovering from a meniscus surgery while Henry Ellenson hasn’t really showed the ability to capitalize on the opportunities he’s had in his short career.

    INDIANA PACERS

    Bojan Bogdanovic, SG/SF, 29 years old, Croatia

    Bogey proved to be a valuable commodity for the Pacers last year, returning top-125 value and earning Nate McMillan’s trust with his defensive effort and a career-high 0.7 steals per game. Victor Oladipo cannot guard the elite small forwards in the league like KD and LeBron and it was Bogdanovic who took this task, delivering some very positive results. His minutes look safe even though Tyreke Evans’ presence in three-guard groups might keep him on the bench as the Pacers need him to stretch the defense while he often has to guard bigger opponents on the other end of the floor. Bogdanovic has worked a lot on his game to become more than just a scorer and he should be on your radar this year as the Pacers will continue to rely upon him.

    Domantas Sabonis, PF/C, 22 years old, Lithuania

    The Pacers deserve a lot of credit for immediately putting the ball in Sabonis’ hands allowing him to unfold his true skills. It’s no coincidence that he saw the league’s eighth biggest increase in usage rate, the league’s biggest increase in rebounding percentage, and the league’s third biggest increase in true shooting percentage. He transformed from an afterthought in the Thunder offense to an integral part of Indiana’s success. The team looks committed to continue playing Thad Young alongside Myles Turner so he isn’t likely to move into the starting lineup even though the Lithuanian possesses the playmaking ability to create opportunities for his teammates. Sabonis is not perfect obviously, as, his small hands don’t help him produce defensive stats, but he is destined to be a solid big who can average 12 and 8 with good percentages.

    MILWAUKEE BUCKS

    Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF/PF, 23 years old, Greece

    The fantasy industry looks to be down on Giannis this year and he’ll need to either increase his defensive numbers or start hitting his three and his free throws in order to crack the top-3. He still dominates the big man categories though (52.9 FG%, 10.0 RPG, 1.4 BPG) and is one of the league’s better thieves (1.5 SPG) plus I do expect coach Bud to use him in small-ball lineups with shooters around him. While introducing Brook Lopez and Ersan Ilyasova to the press, Bucks’ GM Jon Horst emphasized the need to stretch the court with sweet-shooting big men and that should help Giannis play to his strengths as a penetrator and playmaker.

    Ersan Ilyasova, PF, 31 years old, Turkey

    Ilyasova returns to the place where he spent the first seven years of his career but he left the Bucks as a mid-range shooting power forward and now comes back to Milwaukee as a floor-spacing, small-ball big whose defensive versatility could be the key to potentially unlocking a variety of effective lineups. He will be one of the first players off the bench for Milwaukee and will give them some badly-needed shooting out of the forward spot as coach Bud wants his bigs to be able to spread the floor and switch on defense. You should expect to see him go at at the end of the draft and I’m really high on him after so many years where he burned owners due to his instability.

    Thon Maker, PF/C, 21 years old, Somalia

    Thon intrigued scouts with his determination, length and skill level, but that happened against almost non-existent competition and his development has stagnated. The problem arises mainly from the fact that he played on the perimeter early in his career and getting used to playing his more natural power forward position is still a major adjustment, especially physically. He struggled even more in his sophomore year primarily due to the lack of playing time and the statistical regression was inevitable – he hit just 29.8 percent of his shots behind the arc.

    He had largely fallen out of the rotation at the end of the season but an injury to John Henson opened up the opportunity for playoff Thon to appear and he once again responded with his ability to stick with guards and wings and deny them easy drives to the basket. The coaching change in Milwaukee this summer will only help him and I expect coach Bud to craft a game plan better suited to his strengths but with Lopez and Ilyasova now in town the opportunity will not be there on a consistent basis. Maker will have to work hard in order to surpass Henson as the backup center.

    Thank you for checking us out this article and please check us back again next week as we examine the international players in the Southeast 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.

Fantasy News

  • Kyle Kuzma
    PF, Los Angeles Lakers

    Kyle Kuzma (sore left ankle) will not take part in the FIBA World Cup as Team USA announces its final roster.

    Kuzma sat out Team USA's final tuneup against Australia on Saturday as Marc Stein reports that he is flying back to Los Angeles to get treatment. We should still expect him to be ready for training and congrats to Mason Plumlee for making the team as many speculated that he would be the final cut.

    Source: Marc Stein on Twitter

  • Kemba Walker
    PG, Boston Celtics

    Walker scored 22 points on 7-of-15 shooting with four rebounds with two assists as USA Basketball had it's 78-game winning streak in tournament and exhibition games snapped on Saturday.

    Walker continues to assert himself as the team's best player but USA losing to Australia was the much bigger story in this one. Harrison Barnes also played well as he chipped in 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting to go with six rebounds. USA will take on Canada on Monday in their last exhibition before taking on the Czech Republic in the first official match of the tournament on September 1.

    Source: USAB.com

  • Derrick White
    PG, San Antonio Spurs

    Derrick White left Saturday’s game after tripping and hitting his head on the floor.

    White left without help but there is no word yet on whether he is dealing with a concussion. He finished with eight points, hitting 6-of-7 three throws in nine minutes with another update sure to come. The third-year guard put up top-125 per-game value, playing 25.8 minutes in his second season. Even with the return of Dejounte Murray, White should still be worth a roster spot in most standard leagues.

    Source: Jeff Garcia on Twitter

  • Marcus Smart
    PG, Boston Celtics

    Marcus Smart, sidelined for almost three weeks with calf tightness, returned to action on Saturday as USA lost to Australia in their exhibition.

    Smart only played nine minutes in this one but still managed to score 7 points with three assists days after being named one of the team’s co-captains. Coming off an NBA All-Defensive First Team selection, he produced top-100 per game fantasy value as it seems he may have finally fixed his shot after shooting under 40 percent from the field in his first four seasons. He also produced a career-high in both steals and triples with 1.8 and 1.6 respectively as his career seems to be on the up and up.

    Source: USAB.com

  • Patty Mills
    PG, San Antonio Spurs

    Patty Mills went off in the fourth quarter and finished with 30 points as Australia beat USA 98-94.

    Although it was only an exhibition, it was still a huge moment for Mills and the Australian team in front of a huge crowd as they handed the US team it's first loss since 2006. Mills was serenaded with MVP chants as Joe Ingles also played well with 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting with four rebounds and seven assists while Andrew Bogut came off the bench for 16 points, nine rebounds and four assists in 20 minutes, shooting 7-of-8 from the field.

    Source: USAB.com

  • Kyle Kuzma
    PF, Los Angeles Lakers

    Kyle Kuzma is out for Team USA's tuneup up game vs. Australia with a sore left ankle.

    Kuzma is being held out of this one for precautionary reasons. There's clearly no need for USA Basketball to risk him further injuring the sore ankle. This does not sound like a serious injury and should not affect his fantasy ADP on draft day.

    Source: USA Basketball on Twitter

  • Dwight Howard
    C, Memphis Grizzlies

    Dwight Howard has agreed with the Grizzlies on a buyout, and will sign a non-guaranteed contract with the Lakers.

    The Lakers are giving Howard an opportunity to be fantasy relevant. When given minutes, Dwight can produce double-doubles with the best of them, but he has been changing teams for years now. He will be worth a gamble at the end of your draft if camp with the Lakers goes well, but this is a non-guaranteed deal, and he only played nine games last season.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Marcus Derrickson
    PF, Atlanta Hawks

    The Hawks signed Marcus Derrickson to an Exhibit 10 contract on Friday.

    It looks like Derrickson will be a G-League option for the Hawks, so there's nothing to see here. At one point he was competing for the last roster spot on the team. We don't need to keep of track of every computer-generated player.

    Source: Chris Vivlamore on Twitter

  • Marreese Speights
    C, Free Agent

    Marreese Speights will work out for the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday according to Alex Kennedy of Hoopshype.

    Speights spent last year playing in China and will attempt his NBA comeback with the Lakers. who are in desperate need of an additional center. He is among three centers the Lakers are looking into, the others being Dwight Howard and Joakim Noah. Of those three, Speights unquestionably has the best floor spacing ability, which would be his strongest bet to eke out those other two for the job.

    Source: Alex Kennedy on Twitter

  • Trevor Booker
    PF, International

    Trevor Booker has worked out for the Nuggets and has workouts planned with the Bucks and Clippers, according to Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype.

    Booker was out of the NBA in 2018-19, spending the season in China after he didn't get any offers in free agency. He did return to the US to undergo a procedure on his foot but is apparently fully recovered. The last time we saw Booker he split 68 games between the Nets, Sixers and Pacers in 2017-18. If he does make a successful comeback he'll have no fantasy relevance.

    Source: Alex Kennedy on Twitter