• Welcome back Hoop Ballers to our International Spotlight weekly feature where we will be taking a look at how this year’s rookie class performed during Summer league. It’s really hard to get a proper evaluation out of a tournament where most teams have no chemistry and individual performance overshadows team play. On top of that, most rookies are too eager to showcase their skills but very often find themselves struggling to perform as experienced players that have been there, better understand the dynamics of Summer League. Regardless, this year’s action offered a good idea about the characteristics of many international players that are relatively unknown to fans and coaches around the league and in this week’s article I’m going to try and translate their performances on a broader, fantasy-related picture.

    Arnoldas Kulboka, Charlotte Hornets, SF

    3.8 points and 1.3 rebounds on 46 percent shooting in 8.5 minutes per game

    Measuring in at 6’9”, the Lithuanian forward is young, has very good NBA size and mobility for the small forward position and most importantly, he possesses the overall base skill-set that could translate very well into the NBA game. He has the potential to be a knockdown3-point shooter and seems on the right track to do so as his outside shooting ability looked as good as advertised. The Hornets obviously wanted to take a closer look at their first round pick selection, Miles Bridges, so we only got 34 minutes of action for Kulboka, but he looked very comfortable whenever he stepped on the floor.

    He will have to improve his strength, rebounding and finishing ability inside going forward but the team is going to be patient with him. He is reportedly staying to Europe for another year even though it’s unclear whether he will remain with his parent club (Brose Bamberg of the Basketball Bundesliga in Germany) or move to another team on a loan just like year. Kulboka has been a high usage player throughout his career and he thrives as one of the team’s go-to options, an element that that we didn’t see during his summer session but is impending in his development.

    Fantasy impact: Not relevant in standard leagues this year obviously but I would definitely take a flier in dynasty leagues as I can see him becoming a useful rotation player at some point in the future.

    Kostas Antetokounmpo, Dallas Mavs, PF

    5.0 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.3 blocks per game in just 11.8 minutes

    Giannis’ little brother was able to show more than the defensive upside that led the Mavs taking him with the very last pick of the NBA Draft this year. The former Dayton Flyers forward averaged almost 1.5 steals and blocks but showed off his ability to run the pick-and-roll to perfection as a roller who can easily score around the basket. The Mavs rewarded him immediately with a two-way contract after the team’s final game in Vegas and the younger Antetokounmpo will be a part of the team’s G-League affiliate, the Texas Legends.

    Fantasy impact: Low with moderate upside for this year but his long-term upside is intriguing. Even though Kostas is still a raw prospect, he has the necessary physical tools and the appropriate work ethic, plus he will have a chance to grow his game within one of the top development programs around the league.

    Mo Wagner, Los Angeles Lakers, PF/C

    10.3 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 2.7 steals and 1.3 blocks per game in 21.0 minutes

    You can say whatever you want about Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka running the show in L.A. but the Lakers have proved that they have one of the best scouting departments in the NBA in recent years as evidenced by their draft selections, which have included Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart all being drafted outside the top 25. After an impressive Summer League it might be time to add Mo Wagner and Svi Mykaulik to that list as well. The German big raised a lot of eyebrows as he showed more athleticism than he did 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 and he shot poorly in three games (37 percent from behind the arc) but he was also able to finish around the basket while his energy and intensity make him a guy LeBron will probably want to play with.

    Fantasy impact: Moderate in general as he is undersized for the center position but right now there seems to be a path at him earning minutes in the teens as the Lakers didn’t re-sign Brook Lopez and have only JaVale McGee and Ivica Zubac in the middle, both of whom cannot really stretch the floor.

    Svi Mykhailiuk, Los Angeles Lakers, SF

    16.6 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.1 assists on 48 percent in 24.7 minutes per game

    The Ukrainian sharpshooter demonstrated 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. Svi scored 16.6 points per game 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 as after four years at Kansas he looked as one of the most ready-to contribute products even though he didn’t impress with his athleticism or size.

    Fantasy impact: Conservatively moderate as he projects to have specialist value but the Lakers don’t have many shooters around and he can hold his ground defensively against bigger opponents.

    Isaac Bonga, Los Angeles Lakers, SF

    2.1 points, 1.0 rebounds and 0.6 assists in 9.0 minutes per game

    Standing at 6’9” and weighting 200 pounds, the German native was short of a mystery man but he showed an 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 how to dribble and handle the ball, getting called for traveling several times while he can’t really shoot from NBA range. The Lakers are very high on him and chose to sign him to a guaranteed deal instead of letting him develop in Europe and he projects to spend his time almost exclusively in the G-League.

    Fantasy impact: He should only be a consideration in dynasty leagues and it will be interesting to see whether he is able to develop into a valuable wing who can handle the ball.

    Josh Okogie, Minnesota Wolves

    11.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.3 steals and 2.0 blocks per game in 32.5 minutes

    Not surprisingly, Okogie played a whooping 32.5 minutes per game. He was all over the floor and his defensive stats were impressive, justifying our early projection as a potential steal of the draft candidate. Unfortunately, he enters a crowded Wolves rotation and I can’t see him earning significant minutes early in the season but he is a strong, multi-positional defender who makes his presence felt on both sides of the court.

    Fantasy impact: Low but with tons of upside as the Wolves might decide to trade Jimmy Butler or Andrew Wiggins (for different reasons each) and there is a chance Okogie develops into a Thibodeau favorite due to his style of play and strong work ethic.

    Elie Okobo, Phoenix Suns, PG

    2.3 points, 2.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists on 24 percent shooting per game in 14.3 minutes

    After an impressive debut in Summer league against the Mavs, the French guard struggled the rest of the way as Shaq Harrison was able to keep the starting job and look much more ready than the Suns’ rookie. Okobo showed an explosive dribble and a sweet natural step-back jumper, but he made just 4-of-17 shots for the summer although I do blame fatigue for his underwhelming performance as he was coming off a long season where he led his team in scoring in a tough French league. Okobo has very nice upside but he needs to have the ball in his hands in order to learn from his mistakes and adjust to NBA game speed.

    Fantasy impact: Moderate to high, will likely have standard league value at some point during the season as the point guard situation in Phoenix is up for grabs with Brandon Knight, Shaq Harrison and Elie Okobo all expected to take turns.

    Issuf Sanon, Washington Wizards, PG

    2.3 points, 1.3 assists and 1.5 steals on 27 percent in 15.5 minutes per game.

    The Wizards selected Sanon with the intention to stash him in Europe the next few years so it was good to get a look at the second youngest player in the draft. He is fast and long with quick hands that enable him to make defensive plays but he fouls too often and a has a long way to go until he is ready to contribute at this level.

    Fantasy impact: Definitely a name to keep an eye on long-term in dynasty leagues.

    Undrafted Two-Way Contracts

    Yuta Watanabe, Memphis Grizzlies, SF

    9.4 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.6 blocks on 41 percent shooting in 24 minutes per game

    The 6’9” Watanabe played four years at George Washington and now aims to become the second Japanese player to make it to the NBA. He could easily emerge as an NBA role player as he was one of the few guys in Summer League who looked comfortable taking threes. Named the 2017-18 Atlantic-10 Defensive Player of the Year, he finished with eight blocks and made a few impressive plays on the defensive side of the ball, including one where he stuffed the sixth pick in this year’s draft, Mo Bamba, at the rim.

    Angel Delgado, LA Clippers, C

    5.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.4 blocks per game in 16.4 minutes

    The Seton Hall product went undrafted after averaging a double-double during both his junior and senior season but he impressed the Clippers during private workouts and had a nice showing during Summer League. The team rewarded him with a two-way contract as he showed enough versatility on both sides of the floor. His offensive rebounding is spectacular while he can post-up, shoot the mid-range and facilitate the offense, being able to throw hard and precise passes. Lateral quickness and rim protection are not there but he reminds me of Montrezl Harrell and is a prospect that fans should keep their eyes on when the 2018-19 season begins this fall.

    Thank you for reading this article and please make sure to check us out throughout the summer. Stay up to date on all the breaking news and rumors posted on our website and on our Twitter account @HoopBallFantasy.

Fantasy News

  • Kyle Lowry
    PG, Toronto Raptors

    Kyle Lowry (left thumb surgery) is in the starting lineup on Friday for the Raptors as they conclude the preseason vs. the Nets.

    It is good to see Lowry take the floor before we hit the regular season. He is locked in as the Raptors' starting point guard as always, and he has been sliding a bit in drafts. While he may miss his share of games, Lowry is a strong source of assists and 3-pointers that can be found in the middle rounds of drafts when he goes forgotten. Even if he were to get traded mid-year, Lowry would have a prominent role on his new team, and is a crafty enough player to find good fantasy value in diverse settings.

    Source: Josh Lewenberg on Twitter

  • Taj Gibson
    PF, New York Knicks

    Taj Gibson is out vs. the Pelicans on Friday with a sore right calf.

    This is the first we've heard of the right calf issue, and it is most likely not something that will threaten Gibson's status for when the games start counting. When given a decent role Gibson can deliver steady fantasy value. It won't be hard for him to carve out a fantasy role if Fizdale decides to shuffle up his rotation.

    Source: Knicks PR on Twitter

  • Domantas Sabonis
    C, Indiana Pacers

    According to a report from The Athletic's Sam Amick, the Pacers are engaged in 'active trade talks' revolving around Domantas Sabonis.

    The Pacers are facing a Monday night deadline to come to terms on an extension with Sabonis, and as they have had no luck agreeing on an extension it sounds like they are exploring the trade market. They have reached out to several teams so it is not easy to predict how a trade would impact his fantasy value. It would seem unlikely a team would want to acquire Sabonis unless they planned to make him an offensive hub on the block though. He remains a reliable target towards the mid to late-rounds of your draft.

    Source: The Athletic

  • Dennis Smith Jr.
    PG, New York Knicks

    Dennis Smith Jr. is set to start on Friday vs. the Pelicans.

    It would appear Smith has a slight edge on Elfrid Payton and Frank Ntilikina for the starting point guard slot on opening night. However, when your coach is David Fizdale things can change quickly. DSJ will be joined in the starting lineup by Wayne Ellington, RJ Barrett, Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson.

    Source: Ian Begley on Twitter

  • Patrick McCaw
    SG, Toronto Raptors

    Due to a sore left knee cap, the Raptors have ruled Patrick McCaw out for Friday's preseason tilt vs. the Nets.

    It still does not sound like this will be a long-term absence for McCaw, but he is still up in the air for the start of the regular season. It is a setback for his ability to be a standard feature in the Raptors' rotation. He had been in the conversation to start at shooting guard a few weeks ago.

    Source: Josh Lewenberg on Twitter

  • Rui Hachimura
    PF, Washington Wizards

    When head coach Scott Brooks was asked about Rui Hachimura's chances of starting opening night, he replied, "It's probably leaning that way."

    This is about as close to an affirmative as we are going to get before the Wizards release the starting lineup for there first regular season game on October 23. Hachimura has been able to deliver numbers throughout the preseason and is looking like a roster worthy asset in standard fantasy leagues as a rookie. He is also getting another preseason start vs. the Sixers on Friday.

    Source: Candace Buckner on Twitter

  • Kevon Looney
    PF-C, Golden State Warriors

    The Warriors are expecting Kevon Looney to be back for their regular season opener against the Clippers.

    Looney's return to action will be important for the Warriors as they are already thin on the backline. He's displayed some nice growth these past four years and is lined up for a decent role on a thin roster. He should give owners late-round value if he avoids heading to the free throw line constantly.

    Source: ESPN.com

  • Raul Neto
    PG, Philadelphia Sixers

    Due to a left hamstring injury, Raul Neto will not suit up vs. the Wizards on Friday.

    It is a tough break for Neto as he tries to compete for minutes with Trey Burke, but he is unlikely to hold much fantasy relevance either way. He was questionable originally so he may still be ready for the regular season.

    Source: Keith Pompey on Twitter

  • Tyler Cook
    PF, Free Agent

    After getting waived by the Nuggets, Tyler Cook was claimed off waivers by the Cavs, where he will remain on his two-way contract.

    Good for Tyler Cook, although this will not change his fantasy relevance. It is still safe to ignore him.

    Source: The Athletic

  • JJ Redick
    SG, New Orleans Pelicans

    Head coach Alvin Gentry has indicated that J.J. Redick will start on Friday in the Pelicans' preseason clash against the Knicks.

    With Redick getting the start, Brandon Ingram will shift to the power forward slot in the lineup. The Pelicans will have to adjust the rotation with Zion Williamson to miss the start of the regular season. Whether he is coming off the bench or starting, Redick will be a reliable source of points and 3-pointers.

    Source: Andrew Lopez on Twitter