September 5, 2019, 8:36 pm
Hello Hoop Ballers and welcome to our mini-update on the ongoing FIBA World Championship taking place in China. With the games starting early for most of our readers here in the United States, I know that not many people had a chance to watch many, or any, games so far, so I’m here to let you know about what happened in the last few days in a World Cup that has been pretty exciting with a couple favorites emerging.
Starting in Group A, China suffered devastating losses to Poland and Venezuela and got eliminated from what was the easiest pool of teams playing for two tickets that led to the next round.
Argentina and Russia (as expected) advanced from Group B, even though Nigeria and Josh Okogie tried to challenge both of them.
Spain looked vulnerable but survived a thriller against Iran to move to the next round along with a Puerto Rico side that is being led by former Knick Renaldo Balkman.
Serbia and Italy had no trouble getting out of Group D while Team USA needed Turkey to miss on four consecutive free throws in order to survive what looked like their first tournament loss since 2006.
Czech Republic meanwhile, took advantage of Turkey’s Herculean effort against team USA and beat them in the last game of the tournament by completing the upset and advancing to the Round of 16.
Brazil and Greece came out of Group F and will now face Team USA, while the Dominican Republic (my favorite underdog of the tournament) beat Germany and sent the Panzers home, while France had no trouble against either.
Finally, Australia and Lithuania came out of the “group of death” with Canada getting eliminated even after Cory Joseph joined them before the start of the tournament.
Here is how the Round of 16 looks after Thursday’s games:
First Round Standouts
Josh Okogie, Nigeria
14.0 points, 4.7 assists, 2.7 triples, 2.7 steals and 1.3 steals on 46.2 percent from the floor and 53.3 from behind the arc
Okogie probably looked like the best two-way player in the first round of the tournament, locking down opponents (as expected) but making great strides with his shooting and his passing, balancing the need for clutch shots with some great distribution to his teammates.
He lacks the size to compete with elite guards in the NBA but his toughness and athleticism is what made the difference in this tournament. Nigeria felt short but the young guard looked like the leader of this squad and Wolves fans should be excited about his development in the immediate future.
Bogdan Bogdanovic, Team Serbia
24.0 points, 5.0 triples, 4.3 assists and 2.3 steals on 61.5 percent from the floor and 65.2 from behind the arc
Serbia has been unstoppable in the World Cup and the difference hasn’t been Nikola Jokic but BB8, who has shot the ball great from all over the floor, forcing opponents to double team him occasionally. Bogdanovic seems to be healthier than ever with his lateral quickness and his looking to be on another level. He missed about a month at the beginning of the NBA season last year but hopefully he will be able to translate his performance at this tournament to a great start with the Kings.
Tomas Satoransky, Czech Republic
14.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 1.0 triple and 1.0 steal on 38.2 percent from the floor and 37.5 from behind the arc
Czech Republic came into the tournament as an underdog while missing former Wizards first round pick Jan Vesely but Satoransky has shown tremendous leadership, guiding his team to an upset over Turkey that led them to the top-16.
Sato has struggled from the floor but this is expected as teams are zeroing in on him while his 6.3 assists make the difference and I believe he is poised to persuade everyone and especially the Bulls, who signed him, that he is the clear starter.
Patty Mills and the entire Australian Team
Mills is averaging 20.0 points while Joe Ingles is leading the tournament in assists with 8.3 in an offense that looks beautiful and is clearly unstoppable, even when opponents play zone defense. The Boomers seem determined to make a deep run, fueled by their exhibition victory against Team USA that has given them tremendous confidence.
Evan Fournier, France
16.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.3 triples on 44.7 percent from the floor and 50.0 from behind the arc
Fournier seems like another player that is taking his game to next level by becoming the leader of this French team. The Magic guard is not forcing his shots and his 3.7 assists illustrate his ability to read defenses and make the extra pass but he has also been clutch in the tournament as a key figure in late-game situations.
Frank Ntilikina, France
9.3 points, 2.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.0 steals and 2.0 triples on 47.1 percent from the floor and 54.5 from behind the arc
Ntilikina’s numbers haven’t really been anything spectacular, other than the hot shooting, but he has looked confident while impacting plays on both ends of the floor. His performance is really not a surprise as Ntilikina grew up learning how to play within a system, which is the opposite of what the Knicks do under David Fizdale.
New York is not very high on him but I could absolutely see another NBA team taking a shot at him after a successful World Cup.
Must-watch Games in Round 2 (Sept. 6-9)
Spain – Italy (9/6)
Brazil – Czech Republic (9/7)
France – Lithuania (9/7)
USA – Greece (9/7)
Puerto Rico – Italy (9/8)
Czech Republic – Greece (9/9)
France – Australia (9/9)
USA – Brazil (9/9)
Stats are courtesy of FIBA.basketball and are accurate as of September 6th.
September 19, 2019, 2:53 pmBlake GriffinPF, Detroit Pistons
Coach Dwane Casey revealed that although the team's training staff is easing him into things, Blake Griffin (knee) is back on the court and playing.
Coach Casey added that the team expects Griffin to be at 100% with "no lingering effects." Casey said. It looks like Griffin is progressing nicely in his return and should be all systems go for the start of the season. With Griffin's extensive injury history, the team may manage him more this year. Coming off a career year, he's expected to be an early middle-round selection.
September 19, 2019, 2:44 pmVictor OladipoSG, Indiana Pacers
Coach Nate McMillan said that Victor Oladipo (knee) probably wouldn't play on opening night.
Videos have surfaced this summer of Oladipo is doing on-court work, and by all accounts, he is progressing well. Though coach McMillan said that Oladipo isn't playing live yet, and it would seem he still has hurdles to climb. Even when Oladipo does return, he will likely be facing minute restrictions and frequent days off, at least initially. Jeremy lamb figures to be the biggest beneficiary of Oladipo's absence.
September 18, 2019, 10:18 pmNikola VucevicC, Orlando Magic
In an interview Wednesday, Magic head coach Steve Clifford said he could see Nikola Vucevic improving across all areas of his game, and echoing his player's belief that he is in his prime.
One of the areas Clifford thought Vucevic could improve upon was his 3-point shooting percentage, and also seemed to indicate that he could contonue to up his play on defense. He's unquestionably solidified himself as the anchor of this team, and the Magic as a whole are likely eyeing to improve upon their momentum as a rising young playoff team in an Eastern Conference that looks pretty weak after the top four to five teams. Expect Vucevic to produce safe second-round value this season.
September 18, 2019, 9:18 pmDeandre AytonC, Phoenix Suns
Suns General Manager James Jones said in a recent interview that Deandre Ayton is capable of playing PF if needed.
One could chalk this up to either Ayton continuing his development in becoming a more dynamic offensive player, or the Suns covering up for the lack of depth on their roster at PF. In reality it's likley a mix of both, and is a positive for Ayton's value heading into this season. If he does end up spending meaningful time at the four, it would not bode well for the value of Dario Saric, who is already barely going at the end of drafts in 9-cat leagues.
September 18, 2019, 8:15 pmDeMarcus CousinsC, Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers have been granted a $1.75 million Disabled Player Exception for DeMarcus Cousins (torn left ACL).
This now officially rules DeMarcus Cousins out for the season. The Lakers will now have the ability to go out and acquire a player that will in all likelihood occupy the end of their bench. Because they signed Dwight Howard, using this cap space on a center isn't necessarily as big a priority as it once was when Cousins initially went down.
Source: Shams Charania on Twitter
September 18, 2019, 6:28 pmMohamed BambaC, Orlando Magic
Mo Bamba will enter training camp second on the depth chart behind Nikola Vučević.
Head coach of the Magic, Steve Clifford, told a reporter that he plans on having Bamba as his primary backup center while Khem Birch will be third on the depth chart. The Magic also have Vučević, who was re-signed in the offseason to a four-year, $100M contract. As long as Bamba is backing up Vučević, his fantasy ceiling is capped outside of standard redraft leagues.
September 18, 2019, 3:16 pmNerlens NoelC, Oklahoma City Thunder
Brett Dawson of The Athletic believes that Nerlens Noel could see a slight bump in minutes if the Thunder limit Steven Adams' usage.
Noel is a great per-minute producer of steals and blocks but only appeared in 13.7 minutes per contest last season. Additional playing time would make him more useful in deeper leagues.
Source: Brett Dawson of The Athletic
September 18, 2019, 2:23 pmJoel EmbiidC, Philadelphia Sixers
In a video, Joel Embiid announced that he lost about 25 pounds over the summer.
Embiid is one of the best fantasy players around but has struggled at times with conditioning. The Sixers will gladly accept any improvements from last season's averages of 27.5 points and 13.6 rebounds.
Source: NBC Sports
September 18, 2019, 2:04 pmTJ WarrenSF, Indiana Pacers
According to Pacers beat writer Scott Agness, Pacers forward T.J. Warren has no injury worries heading into the season.
Warren has missed 56 games during the last two seasons, but he hopes to stay healthy for all of 2019-20. Warren is likely to start for the Pacers and could hold top-100 value if he can stay on the court.
Source: Scott Agness on Twitter
September 18, 2019, 1:37 pmDamian LillardPG, Portland Trail Blazers
Damian Lillard expects to play for Team USA during next year's Summer Olympics.
Lillard skipped this year's World Cup but is planning to play in Tokyo. He should be a late first-round or early second-round fantasy pick this year.