September 25, 2021, 5:21 pm
Welcome back, Hoop Ballers, to our offseason International Spotlight feature as we get close to the start of another NBA season and the fantasy madness it brings!
The HoopBall FantasyPass is the perfect companion for the competitive fantasy basketball player, from our draft guide and the Bruski 150 to the schedule grid, exclusive analysis, articles and Discord chat rooms!
With fantasy redraft leagues getting ready to conduct their drafts it’s a good time to identify a few international guys that are coming into the season with a good amount of momentum and the opportunity to rise to the radar of standard league value. Contrary to last year, this was a summer with plenty of basketball, at the international level as well as at the Las Vegas Summer League, and with training camps about to open here are a few names that I’m keeping a close eye on for the upcoming year.
Precious Achiuwa, PF/C, Toronto Raptors
Preseason Yahoo ADP: 143
Masai Ujiri was blatantly clear a couple weeks ago when, discussing his vision for the team this year, he said that “We’re not a team of ‘now’,”. The Raptors are essentially rebuilding on the fly and they made sure to acquire Precious Achiuwa, a young gem, in the deal that saw their veteran leader for years, Kyle Lowry, head to Miami. Achiuwa had an underwhelming season with the Heat but we can’t forget the fact that he came into the season with minimal exposure and complete lack of preparation in regards to how teams mold their draft picks during the offseason. Stuck behind All-Star Bam Adebayo, he was a bit too raw for a contending team like the Heat and quickly lost his spot in the rotation to aging veterans like Dewayne Dedmon.
His summer was full of basketball though as he first played with Nigeria in the Olympics and then in the Las Vegas Summer League where he was one of the top performers, showing range in his shot and the ability to dominate on both ends of the floor. The Raptors lacked consistent rebounding last year so his springiness and ability to defend multiple positions will blend very nicely with a young core in Toronto that is looking to develop in the upcoming years. Toronto has a long tracking record of developing players, similar to the Spurs of a few years ago, and Precious is at a minimum guaranteed to get the opportunity to compete for more minutes and potentially a starting job.
Fantasy Upside: His ADP looks reasonable but Achiuwa still needs to develop a 3-point shot and improve his FT shooting in order to become fantasy relevant so you have to take a leap of faith that this is actually happening this year if you are to draft him in standard leagues.
Jordan Nwora, PG, Milwaukee Bucks
Current Yahoo ADP: N/A
I have been high on Nwora since he entered the league last year mainly due to the fact that the kid is a certified bucket-getter whether it’s off the dribble, catch and shoot or drives to the rim — just name it. Unfortunately, when you play for a team full of offensive talent with the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton, offense won’t get you minutes and that’s exactly the case with Nwora who, whether due to the speed of the league, the physicality or lack of effort, just isn’t a good defender at all and hasn’t gained the trust of Coach Bud yet. After a strong summer playing with team Nigeria in the Olympics, where he went off, and dominating in Summer League, Nwora is coming into the season with an opportunity to earn a backup job for a team that lost P.J. Tucker and added Grayson Allen, Rodney Hood and Semi Ojeleye.
Fantasy barometer: Nwora has a chance to earn a role in his sophomore year but a lot will depend on whether he shows any signs of progress on the defensive side of the ball; it’s very difficult to predict what happens in training camp but he’s someone that I’m keeping an eye on as he could emerge as a points and triples specialist, even in standard leagues.
Omer Yurtseven, PF/C, Miami Heat
Current Yahoo ADP: N/A
The Heat overhauled their roster this season, adding a heavy dose of veterans like Kyle Lowry, Dewayne Dedmon, P.J. Tucker and Markieff Morris as they look poised to come out of a tough Eastern Conference. Shooting was an area of concern last year as Jimmy Butler struggled behind the arc while Tyler Herro didn’t quite live up to expectations and the addition of unknown big Omer Yurtseven shouldn’t go unnoticed.
The Turkish big had an impressive college career before going undrafted but last year he played for the Oklahoma City Blue in the G League before the Heat grabbed him just before the end of the 2020-21 NBA season. He was one of the marvels of the Las Vegas Summer league, scoring inside out and looking like a man among boys. Inserting him in the lineup remains an intriguing possibility since the Turkish big can play as a center (he stands at 7 feet and 264 pounds) and could give the Heat the flexibility to move Adebayo to the power forward position. Not long ago Meyers Leonard and Kelly Olynyk were 20 mpg starting centers with the Heat and Yurtseven could fill that same role, defending opposing centers to relieve Adebayo of that task and hoisting some open triples.
Fantasy Upside: Yurtseven has a fantasy set stat that screams “sleeper” as he can score, make 3s and protect the rim and the Heat have had success in recent years finding hidden gems like Kendrick Nunn so make sure you add Yurtseven to your watchlist.
Marko Simonovic, PF, Chicago Bulls
Current Yahoo ADP: N/A
The Bulls went all in this offseason, deciding to pay for the services of Lonzo Ball and DeMar DeRozan, and while their starting lineup looks loaded their bench has taken a hit and they could be looking to get production from guys like Alize Johnson and Tony Bradley who don’t have much experience. When examining the Bulls’ depth chart the case can be easily made for their frontcourt being an injury away from calling a G League guy, and with news that Patrick Williams suffered a severe left ankle sprain and will be sidelined for 4-to-6 weeks the situation looks murky.
Marko Simonovic is a rookie but he has been playing professionally for the last four years in Europe and he was one of the standouts of Summer League, showcasing excellent range, shooting and high basketball IQ. This is a pick that was made by Bulls President of Basketball Operations Arturas Karnisovas and he is someone that the organization believes could have a role immediately.
Fantasy Upside: Simonovic will have to compete with Tony Bradley for the backup center job so it’s possible that he gains minutes early in the season and his stat set is fantasy friendly so he’s one to watch for sure.
Thank you for reading this week’s article and look out for more content in the upcoming weeks as I will be examining rotation battles around the league and the state of fantasy basketball this year. Stay up to date on all the breaking news and rumors posted on our website and on our Twitter account @HoopBallFantasy.