June 1, 2018, 3:34 pm
Welcome back Hoop Ballers to our International Spotlight weekly feature where we will be taking a deeper look into a couple of point guards with lots of upside in this year’s International rookie class.
This is a second part of a series of installments where I break down the top prospects with in-depth scouting reports and early statistical projections.
(Pau-Lacq-Orthez, LNB Pro A France) 6’3” 180lb. G
Okobo is an explosive, left-handed combo guard with great size and length for the position who can play within a system and could develop into a potential starter in the NBA. He has been lighting it up in France for the past few months playing for one of the best teams in one of the top-5 European leagues. His performance last week, where he scored 44 points in a game against AS Monaco, put him on the radar for good and teams might have to reach in the middle of the first round in order to get him.
He had a great statistical season this year playing approximately 26 minutes per game and 36 games overall while averaging 13.8 points, 4.7 assists and 2.7 rebounds on 48.9 percent shooting from the field and 41.8 behind the arc. He looks ready to make the jump to the NBA as he is someone who can spread the floor and run the pick-and-roll effectively. His shooting numbers were consistent this year and he is slowly learning how to be effective on both sides of the floor while developing the instincts that will allow him to play off-ball as well.
A Score-First Point Guard
Okobo is a very quick guard with a tight handle and a fluid athlete who plays above the rim regularly. He is athletic with a nice frame and good length, he’s got great quickness, a solid feel for the game and above average scoring instincts. He changes speed smoothly in the open floor, is already a prolific pick-and-roll player who can find the open man and has proven he is able to score against bigger and more experienced opponents. Playing in a league typically dominated by Americans, he was the only French player in Pro A who led his team in scoring.
His shot-making ability is his biggest strength as he is able to attack rotating defenses and either hit shots off the dribble or drive and kick to his teammates. His quickness combined with his pull-up ability makes him a tough cover in the pick-and-roll while he can hit the long jumper and use a quick first step to punish aggressive closeouts and big men who switch onto him.
Learning the Position
Okobo participated and starred in the FIBA U20 European Championship in Greece last year, leading France to a bronze medal and he is now a member of the senior French national team. A late bloomer who can score with multiple ways, he is still learning how to play the point guard position after spending the early part of his career being an off-ball guard.
As a result, he makes too many head-scratching passes and doesn’t always trust the system even though his vision is very promising and he usually knows where his teammates are no matter where he stands on the floor. Fortunately, he is already extremely familiar with the pick-and-roll and he can get to the rim and finish at a high rate with a smooth touch.
Turnovers and Defensive Potential
Okobo has developed some bad habits in his career as he committed an absurd 2.8 turnovers in 26 minutes of action this year and he will have to learn how to be more careful with the ball once he makes the transition to the NBA.
He is by no means a perfect off-ball defender but he is rarely caught sleeping, while his length and speed help him to cover ground quickly and prevent opposing players from being left open. There is no need to worry though as he has everything he needs to succeed in the NBA level on the defensive end from a physical standpoint: a good muscular body, decent size at 6’3” and an impressive 6’8” wingspan that helps him disrupt the passing lanes.
The French LNB Pro A league has been a consistent source of NBA talent the last 10 years and we have enough data to compare him with similar players who came to the NBA at the same age and with the same level of experience.
Look at his projected stats per-40 minutes, which translate very well compared to Evan Fournier and Nicolas Batum — players who came to the NBA after successfully dominating at the European level.
Okobo has spent much of the draft process flying under the radar but an exceptionally strong finish to an impressive overall season with Pau-Lacq-Orthez has led to an increase in the buzz surrounding him. He tested the draft waters last year, completing multiple workouts with a few teams before ultimately withdrawing, and with his draft stock at an all-time high I expect him to be gone by the end of the first round. He is already in the US and here you can look at some footage form an impressive workout he had in Las Vegas yesterday with a few other prospects (he is the lefty with the red and blue shirts on).
Projection: Mid-to-late first round
(Fraport Skyliners Bundesliga, German Pro B) 6’9″ 203lb. G
The German prospect is one of the most intriguing International players of this draft class but he is more of a stash option with great upside down the road. Among the youngest players projected to be drafted, he doesn’t turn 19 until late November and he has been heavily scouted the last few years as, from a developmental stance, he resembles Giannis Antetokounmpo in a lot of ways, playing mostly in a lower division league and dominating against semi-professional basketball players.
Even though his playmaking ability and defensive versatility are hard to argue against, he is still very raw and he hasn’t proven himself at the highest level of competition. His stats from this year really tell the whole story as he showed a lot of promise with the junior team but struggled in the majors against senior teams loaded with veterans.
Bonga stands at 6’10” in shoes with a good wingspan (measured 7’0” at the 2017 Basketball Without Borders camp) and his size at the point guard position is what instantly stands out with him. A late-bloomer physically, he might have an inch or maybe even more left while his underdeveloped frame has significant potential. He has reportedly added approximately 20 pounds in the last six months and I can only imagine the improvement he could have by working with the personnel of an NBA franchise.
He excels in one-on-one defense against similarly sized players, as he is able to stay in front of them and use his strength and length to contain dribble penetration and contest shots when getting passed by.
A Good Basketball Mind
The German guard is super agile for his size but he is also an extremely gifted passer at such a young age, especially in transition, where the floor is open. He uses his height to read defenses and drive to the rim and even though he is not very explosive, he compensates by showing impressive footwork and excellent body coordination. He still struggles to finish around the basket due to below-average strength but he has consistently showed the ability to get to the free throw line where he shot a stunning 90 percent this year (99-of-110 collectively in all leagues).
Possessing an outstanding feel for the game and great basketball instincts to go along with fluidity, intangibles and defensive potential, he might be the steal of this year’s draft class. His court vision and passing ability are advanced for a young player as he can handle the ball well with both hands. He shows a variety of creative dribbles including an inside out dribble, crossover and a lethal hesitation but turnovers are alarming and he will have to learn how to be a better distributor.
Room for Development
Bonga has the potential of a multi-positional defender due to his size and mobility and he already guarded four different positions in the German league thanks to his quick feet and hands that get him a lot of steals and blocks. Coming from a soccer family, his scoring and finishing ability need a lot of work while he has to prove that he can excel against tougher competition at higher levels.
His jump shot is slow and needs a lot of refinement as he is not a good perimeter shooter, making approximately 30 percent of his shots for the season though he has shown a knack to knock the corner shot.
Bonga disappears when playing away from the ball and it’s crucial that he works on his shot because the lack of spacing will restrict his ability to be employed as a secondary shot creator.
Next Season Outlook
Bonga has an interesting foundational skillset thanks to his playmaking ability, positional size, defensive flashes, and potential jump shot and he is a great stash candidate thanks to his youth, size, and all-around flashes. His lack of strength is not surprising and he is not the most explosive athlete, but he is a player with a ton of high-level role player potential and I expect him to either remain in Europe for another year or spend time in the G-League, depending on where he gets drafted.
Projection: Early-to-mid second round
An Update on the EuroCamp
The NBA announced this week the list of 40 players who are expected to attend the NBA Global Camp 2018 from June 2-5 at La Ghirada Sports Center in Treviso, Italy. Top Draft-eligible prospects from outside the US, including Dzanan Musa, will be attending the event while the camp will feature team interview sessions, five-on-five games, shooting drills, and strength and agility testing in front of representatives from all 30 NBA teams, all under the direction of NBA personnel.
The camp will take place just days before the early entry withdrawal deadline (June 11th) and a few weeks before the NBA Draft and it is expected to influence the draft stock of many prospects, including some of which we previewed the last few weeks here.
Thank you for reading this article and please make sure you check us back again next week and throughout the offseason as more player breakdowns are coming up. Stay up to date on all the breaking news and rumors posted on our website and on our Twitter account @HoopBallFantasy.
Stats are courtesy of NBA.com, RealGm.com, Basketball-Reference.com and Thestepien.com and are accurate as of June 1st.
February 17, 2020, 4:43 pmKris DunnPG, Chicago Bulls
According to reports, there is a growing expectation within the Bulls organization that Kris Dunn may miss the remainder of the season due to his right knee MCL sprain.
Nothing is certain at the moment, but fantasy owners should prepare for the possibility that Dunn will be shut down. He has dealt with a lot of swelling and the Bulls are now five games behind the Magic, who currently hold the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Coby White could see steady minutes at guard the rest of the way, but he has only shot 37 percent from the field this season.
Source: NBC Sports Chicago
February 17, 2020, 12:51 pmBrandon IngramSF, New Orleans Pelicans
It's reportedly a "foregone conclusion" that the Pelicans offer Brandon Ingram a max contract this summer.
No surprises there, as Ingram has erased the health concerns that lingered this summer with a huge season. He's blossomed into an All-Star after missing the end of last year with DVT in his right arm and is averaging career-highs across the board. New Orleans is a great spot for fantasy value so this is a win for everyone involved, assuming pen does eventually meet paper.
Source: The Athletic
February 17, 2020, 12:47 pmJohn Beilein, Cleveland Cavaliers
John Beilein and the Cavs have discussed the possibility of Beilein stepping down from his head coaching job during the All-Star break, per Adrian Wojnarowski.
Beilein's transition to the NBA has not gone well, but abandoning a five-year commitment so soon would be absolutely shocking. He has struggled to make the jump from the college game, altering his game plans and terminology in an effort to help get the Cavs on the same page, though he's had a few notable off-court missteps and has had trouble relating to his players. Even if he doesn't leave in the coming days, one has to imagine that Beilein won't be in Cleveland much longer.
Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter
February 16, 2020, 11:54 pmGiannis AntetokounmpoPF, Milwaukee Bucks
Giannis Antetokounmpo could not will his team to the win against Team LeBron on Sunday in what was the most competitive All-Star Game we have seen in quite some time.
Antetokounmpo scored 25 points with 11 boards on 12-of-21 shooting. He had two clutch blocks on LeBron James to keep his team alive, but ultimately Team LeBron was able to overpower Team Giannis. Antetokounmpo's value is being dragged down by free-throw shooting and turnovers, but he remains a top-30 asset nonetheless.
February 16, 2020, 11:49 pmAnthony DavisPF-C, Los Angeles Lakers
Anthony Davis secured the win for Team LeBron on Sunday with a game-winning free throw.
Davis scored 19 points with nine boards on 9-of-16 shooting. Kyle Lowry pulled him to the ground to send him to the line with a chance to win the game and AD delivered. Davis remains the No. 1 player in 9-cat formats and should have no issue maintaining that spot.
February 16, 2020, 11:46 pmKawhi LeonardSF, Los Angeles Clippers
Kawhi Leonard won the first Kobe Bryant All-Star Game MVP Award with 30 points as Team LeBron beat Team Giannis 157-155 on Sunday.
Leonard came out the gate hot as he knocked down eight triples prior to the extremely competitive fourth quarter. He turned it up with some clutch steals down the stretch and helped Team LeBron secure the win. Leonard is a lock for top-10 value as we shift our focus to the second half of the season.
February 15, 2020, 10:43 pmDerrick Jones Jr.SF, Miami Heat
Derrick Jones Jr. won the Dunk Contest on Saturday in an epic showdown with Aaron Gordon.
Jones and Gordon extended the Dunk Contest into overtime and treated us to some of the best dunks in recent memory. Jones put on a spectacular performance with one 360, between-the-legs dunk that was reminiscent of Vince Carter. Gordon dunked over Tacko Fall in his final dunk and put up dunks worthy of a trophy himself. Jones earned the nickname of Airplane Mode on Saturday and is an option at the end of your bench in 14-team leagues.
February 15, 2020, 9:33 pmBuddy HieldSG, Sacramento Kings
Buddy Hield beat Devin Booker and Davis Bertans with 27 points in the final round of the 3-Point Contest on Saturday.
Hield had to hit the final shot to beat Booker by one point and take home the 2020 3-Point Contest trophy. Hield is third in made 3-pointers this season with 207. He has been on a roll lately and is a top-30 player over the past month while averaging 21.1 points and 4.5 threes per game. Hield should have a top-50 finish to the season.
February 15, 2020, 8:38 pmBam AdebayoC, Miami Heat
Bam Adebayo beat Domantas Sabonis in the final round of the Skills Challenge to take home the victory on Saturday.
Adebayo beat Spencer Dinwiddie, Pascal Siakam and Domantas Sabonis on his way to winning the 2020 Skills Challenge. Adebayo was able to showcase his talents on Saturday and has been a top-40 player in 9-cat leagues this season. He will have early-round value moving forward.
February 15, 2020, 6:08 pmEvan TurnerSG, Minnesota Timberwolves
Evan Turner is set to work out for the Clippers, per Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.
Turner is working on a buyout with the Wolves and Minnesota never had any intention of holding ET back from other work. He's only appeared in 19 games all season and would be at the end of LA's rotation, so there's minimal fantasy impact if Turner finds his way to the Clips.
Source: Chris Haynes on Twitter