October 12, 2018, 2:11 pm
Welcome back Hoop Ballers to the final part of our International Spotlight mini preview feature where we take a look at all the international talent around the league and their season outlook. We previously went through the Atlantic, the Central, the Southeast, the Southwest and the Northwest Division as we are now less than a week away from tip-off!
Rodions Kurucs has been getting the minutes over Dzanan Musa in the preseason while Kenny Atkinson said that the Latvian rookie has a chance to crack the Nets rotation. Furkan Korkmaz seems to have built upon a very impressive preseason and with Jerryd Bayless sidelined with a knee sprain, the Turkish guard might see minutes early in the year. Serge Ibaka will spend more of his time closer to the hoop as he and Valanciunas are locked into a timeshare. Maxi Kleber looks to have the upper hand in the battle for backup frontcourt minutes in Dallas and in standard leagues, with news about Dirk Nowitzki not being ready to start the season I would stay away from the German legend, who will have more of a mentorship role this year. Isiah Hartenstein has been a pleasant surprise in the Rockets camp with a “decisive lead” over Zhou Qi and Marquese Chriss so far. Pau Gasol looks poised to earn the starting gig in San Antonio and the Spurs will actually need his playmaking abilities while the injuries of Dejounte Murray, Derrick White and Lonnie Walker will open up more minutes for Marco Belinelli and Davis Bertans. Alex Abrines, Terrance Ferguson and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot have had their moments in the preseason but it’s Dennis Schroder who looks rejuvenated and poised for a bounce back season.
Here is a look into the Pacific Division.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
Jonas Jerekbo, F, 31 years old, Sweden
The Warriors did add Boogie in the offseason but they failed to address their need for more shooting and with Patrick McCaw not agreeing to terms with the team their bench is somehow depleted. Jerebko was a cheap addition and he will provide some much needed versatility in the forward positions while I expect him to get plenty of open looks. He is not worth drafting unless you’re in deeper leagues and he should make for a nice DFS play when the Warriors decide to rest their starters or in the unfortunate event that someone goes down with an injury.
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
Danilo Gallinari, F, 30 years old, Italy
If you play fantasy basketball there is really no chance you haven’t been burned by Gallo in recent years due to an accumulation of serious injuries and freak accidents. Nothing really tops how he managed to fracture his hand after punching someone during a friendly game (how ironic) last year, ending up missing the entire EuroBasket tournament. Unsurprisingly, he had a phenomenal preseason this year, already developing great chemistry with fellow forward Tobias Harris and he looks on track to play big minutes so the question is not whether you draft him but where exactly you feel comfortable doing so. His ADP in Yahoo is currently 134 so there is a profit margin there and I assume most of you don’t want to take a chance on him in the middle rounds but he is worth a pick at the end of standard leagues as his upside is in the middle-rounds.
Marcin Gortat, C, 34 years old, Poland
The Polish Hammer is expected to fill the void left by the departure of DeAndre Jordan and he looks locked into the starting role. A lot of managers will probably go with Montrezl Harrell instead of Gortat but both guys bring different things to the table and I expect both of them to have season-long value. Gortat is getting old and is not a sexy pick but he sets hard screens that open up space for his teammates and durability has not been an issue for him. The Clippers owe their 2019 first round pick to Boston (1-14 protected) and even though it seems unlikely that they will tank, I believe they will be content missing the playoffs while developing some of their young guys so keep an eye on Gortat’s minutes as the season progresses.
Boban Marjanovic, C, 30 years old, Serbia
Boban racking up double-doubles in preseason is not something new but the truth of the matter is that he is simply the third string option on the Clippers. Doc Rivers showed the willingness to exploit some matchups with him on the floor last year but this can only happen in limited minutes and Boban shouldn’t have standard league value.
Milos Teodosic, G, 31 years old, Serbia
Milos is a high IQ player who wanted to come to the NBA for years but age seems to have caught up on him and he struggled to remain healthy in his rookie season. He is able to dominate the game with his passing abilities and is a solid source of assists and threes but this won’t happen on a Clippers squad loaded with perimeter talent. A change of scenery might boost his value as I could see him fitting nicely with the Suns, the Spurs or the Magic but until something materializes he shouldn’t be drafted and the emergence of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in Los Angeles means that he is likely to begin the season out of the rotation.
Los Angeles Lakers
Isaac Bonga, G, 18 years old, Germany
Standing at 6’9” and weighting 200 pounds, the German native was sort of a mystery man but he showed impressive size for a ball handler and the length to match defensively with his long arms and legs. He was the youngest player drafted this year and it’s clear that he’s still learning the fundamentals, repeatedly getting called for traveling several times in Summer League, while his shooting is not there yet. The Lakers are really high on him and chose to sign him to a guaranteed deal instead of letting him develop in Europe but he projects to spend his time almost exclusively in the G-League this year, so only take a flier on him in dynasty leagues
Svi Mykhailuk, SG, 21 years old, Ukraine
The Ukrainian sharpshooter had an impressive offseason, demonstrating the ability to be more than a 3-point specialist at the NBA level with good size for the position and a lethal, quick release. He scored 16.6 points per game in Summer League, making 41 percent of his threes, while creating his own shot and shooting off the dribble. The Lakers didn’t hesitate to ink him to a three-year rookie deal after looking like one of the most ready-to contribute products. Still, preseason proved that the minutes won’t be there for him and the need for his shooting is not imminent as the team looks to push the tempo and create easy scoring opportunities in transition as opposed to trying and break defenses with spacing and corner threes.
Mo Wagner, PF/C, 21 years old, Germany
After an impressive Summer League, the German big raised a lot of eyebrows as he looked a lot more athletic than he seemed at Michigan, running the court exceptionally well and making his presence felt on the defensive side before leaving the tournament with a left knee contusion. We already knew that he could stretch the floor but he was also able to finish around the basket while his energy and intensity make him a guy that LeBron will probably want to play with. Unfortunately for him though, the bone contusion proved to be serious enough to cost him the entire preseason. Wagner is worth a stash in dynasty leagues and he is a skilled big who could earn minutes but he will have to prove that he’s healthy first.
Ivica Zubac, C, 21 years old, Croatia
After a summer in which he spent endless hours in the gym, Zubac was headed for training camp in the best shape he’s ever been in but his decision to play in the FIBA qualifiers in September backfired. He got sick on his way back from Croatia with a cold that made him sick enough to be running a fever and gasping for air for days when training camp kicked off. The kid knows that he hasn’t played as well as the team would hope, showing no signs of progress after his rookie season and with the team’s massive void at center behind JaVale McGee, this finally looked like the year where Zubac could grab a role if he wanted. The Lakers were displeased by his decision to play overseas and I expect for Wagner and Zubac to split the minutes for the backup center position once he’s healthy.
Dragan Bender, C, 20 years old, Croatia
The Dragon’s third Summer League was highlighted by the inconsistency that has characterized his NBA career so far. Bender shot better from deep last season while becoming a more active playmaker but he had a brutal preseason and even the coaching change doesn’t seem enough to get him going. I expect Igor Kokoskov to put the ball in his hands more but the Suns might soon pull the plug on him after doing the same with Maquese Chriss. Keep in mind that he is only 20 years so it’s certain that NBA teams will give him another chance.
Elie Okobo, G, 20 years old, France
After an impressive debut in Summer League against the Mavs, the French guard struggled the rest of the way. Okobo showed an explosive dribble and a sweet natural step-back jumper, but he made just 4-of-17 shots – although I do blame fatigue for his underwhelming performance as he was coming of a long season where he led his team in scoring in a tough French league. Shaq Harrison was able to keep the starting job coming into preseason and he has looked much more ready than the Suns’ rookie. Okobo has the upside but he needs to have the ball in his hands in order to learn from his mistakes and adjust to NBA game speed. The Suns are not committed to developing their young guys and somehow want to pursue the playoffs so keep your expectations low for the beginning of the season.
Bogdan Bogdanovic, SG, 26 years old, Serbia
Two years ago, in a stunning decision, the international basketball governing body of FIBA switched up how nations reached the World Cup and Olympics. Instead of qualifying through summertime tournaments, there would be three soccer-style windows in September, November and February for round-robin qualification games. Most international players on NBA teams were silently prohibited to participate in the games that took place this last September with training camps just around the corner. The Kings, however, didn’t hesitate to allow their guys to make the trip as Vlade Divac has strong ties with the Serbian Basketball Federation and is obviously eyeing a return to the Presidency once his tenure in Sacramento ends. Bogdanovic unfortunately hurt his knee during a game against Greece and underwent a minor arthroscopic knee procedure on September 24 with a 4-6 week timetable to return to the court. He is by far the Kings’ best player and his offensive talent has already been missed in a brutal preseason where Sacramento has struggled. He has been falling in mock drafts thanks to his injury and you should keep an eye on him in the later rounds as his scoring is elite and he still has room to improve.
Nemanja Bjelica, F, 30 years old, Serbia
Bjelica had an impressive run last year averaging 10.8 points, 6.8 boards, 2.1 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.7 threes a game as a starter after Jimmy Butler went down. He played as a small forward in Minnesota which is not his natural position but he is expected to begin the season as a power forward, and maybe even the starter. The minutes will be there and his shooting is important for this team so he should have value right off the bat but the Kings are currently not a stable organization and the narrative could easily change during the season.
Kosta Koufos, C, 29 years old, Greece
With the Kings committed to playing the young kids, Koufos is not projected to be a part of the rotation this year and he might have to push for a trade or a buyout. He is a solid rebounds specialist who could have value for the right team as an energy guy off the bench.
Skal Labissiere , F/C, 22 years old, Haiti
Skal is currently buried in the depth chart behind WCS, Bjelica, Bagley and Harry Giles and even though the talent is there he won’t be fantasy relevant unless someone goes down with an injury. The Kings have a gaping hole in the small forward position but are loaded with forwards and centers and it’s just unfortunate that Skal won’t get the opportunity to develop but he is someone to keep an eye on in dynasty leagues.
Thank you for checking out this article and good luck to all of you during Draft weekend. 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.