August 3, 2018, 4:08 pm
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.