September 21, 2018, 2:58 pm
Welcome back Hoop Ballers to our International Spotlight mini preview feature where we take a look at all the international players around the league and their outlook for the upcoming season. We previously examined the Atlantic and Central Divisions with an emphasis on the opportunities that will arise for some international guys due to a combination of change in scenery and the introduction of a new coaching staff.
Here is a closer look into the Southeast Division:
Tyler Dorsey, G, 22 years old, Greece
Hawks guard Tyler Dorsey finished his rookie season on a high note, playing almost 20 minutes over the final 45 games with averages of 8.5 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists. He reportedly spent the entire summer in the gym working on his game by perfecting his footwork and improving his defense and playmaking skills. Isaiah Taylor and Malcolm Delaney, who both played off the bench as part of small backcourts, are no longer are on the roster while a potential trade of Kent Bazemore could open up even more playing time for Dorsey. The Greek-American guard showed his improvement from his rookie season at Summer League, averaging 17.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists in Las Vegas and the rebounds are notable as he has shown the ability to rebound out of position when given the extra minutes. The Hawks also look committed to his development and “were all for” Dorsey playing with the Greek national team during the World Cup qualifiers in September, even sending GM Travis Schlenk to watch him play in Europe. His shooting looks like a perfect fit for Lloyd Pierce’s uptempo offense and even though I don’t expect him to have standard league relevance from the get go, he is definitely someone to keep an eye on as part of (probably) one of the league’s worst teams.
Nicolas Batum, SF, 29 years old, France
Batum had a miserable season last year after tearing his left UCL in the preseason and missing the first 12 games. His per-minute production was very close to typical levels though, so the veteran forward could be primed for a bounce-back year and more shots are set to fall his way with Dwight Howard no longer around. Newly hired head coach James Borrego has been clear about how the Hornets are going to value winning over player development while he also expects Batum to handle and distribute the ball more than he did during the 2017-18 season (despite averaging 5.5 assists). The Frenchman is also expected to slide over to his natural position and primarily play small forward which could help him play within his comfort zone. He has always been capable of posting mid-round value and he could be a nice value pick to target towards the later rounds on draft day after seeing his scoring, rebounding and assists totals dip compared to previous years.
Bismack Biyombo, C, 26 years old, DR Congo
The center position for the Hornets looks like one that fantasy players should avoid at all costs since it could go in so many different ways. Borrego declared all starting positions up for grabs, except from Kemba’s role as the point guard. Cody Zeller had been Charlotte’s usual center from 2014-15 until last year, when Dwight Howard took over that role. With Howard now on the Wizards, Zeller will have an opportunity to take back the starting job but it won’t be handed to him, as he’ll have to compete with the likes of Willy Hernangomez, Bismack Biyombo and Frank Kaminsky. Frank the Tank is also expected to slide more to the center position in order to allow the Hornets to deploy more small-ball lineups and that means that one of these bigs will remain out of the rotation. On the other hand, each of these players offers significantly different skillsets, so it’s possible minutes will fluctuate on a night-to-night basis. Biyombo has been a steady force missing just one game the last three years and the fact that Zeller is so injury prone could make him valuable at some point during the season. He averaged 8.6 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in 25.1 mpg across 25 starts last year when Nikola Vucevic was sidelined and he should be viewed as a rebounds and blocks specialist in deeper leagues.
Willy Hernangomez, C, 24 years old, Spain
Considered a veteran by Summer League standards, Hernangomez has been a double-double machine every summer but that hasn’t translated to the regular season yet. The Knicks and the Hornets were loaded at the center position last year and Hernangomez had a disappointing sophomore season but he has been consistent every time he’s been given the minutes. The Hornets shipped Dwight Howard out of Charlotte but there is still a bit of a logjam there, with Zeller, Kaminsky and Biyombo all in contention for playing time so it’s not a lock that the Spaniard will be getting on the floor more. Defensively, he is simply an effort guy who likes contact and doesn’t back down but that doesn’t always cover for his flaws. Measured at 6’11” in shoes he is neither explosive nor athletic which makes him far from a reliable rim protector. Playing in Spain with a young team he was able to get major minutes but that also resulted in some bad habits, especially the lack of defensive discipline. Borrego has been well known around the league for his player development skills and he might actually be the right coach for the Spaniard. A lot will be determined during training camp and if Willy can carry his Summer League success over to the regular season there’s no reason to be slept on if he’s available in the later rounds of your fantasy draft.
Tony Parker, PG, 36 years old, France
After 17 seasons with the Spurs, Parker‘s departure to the Hornets came as a shock and it was actually not due to money. San Antonio matched Charlotte’s offer but the team wanted him to be an assistant coach and TP turned it down because James Borrego promised him a bigger role. Malik Monk is expected to slide to the shooting guard position and Parker will be the backup point guard behind Kemba Walker. He will certainly help the Hornets with his experience and leadership but he posted the worst statistics of his career last season in San Antonio and injuries have slowed him down in recent years even though his game is not based on speed or athleticism. Charlotte has been lacking a reliable backup point guard for years now so it seems very possible that Parker will be getting approximately 15 minutes every night while Borrego has hinted at using the duo together in the backcourt occasionally.
Goran Dragic, PG, 32 years old, Slovenia
The Dragon finished last year averaging 17.3 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.8 assists a game in 31.7 minutes of play, earning himself a trip to the All-Star Weekend even though it what was not his best statistical season – though I blame this to the deep run he had with his national team last September. Dragic, now 32, announced his retirement from the Slovenian national after leading his country to its first EuroBasket and as expected he spent this summer getting some much-needed rest and working on improving his balance, footwork and his dribbling. I’ve been noticing his ADP falling in recent mock drafts and that might be understandable due to his age but he is still the best player on this roster and he should bounce back as long as he doesn’t sustain any injuries, shaping up as a nice pick in the mid to late rounds.
Evan Fournier, SG, 25 years old, France
Increasing his scoring average for the last six seasons, Evan Fournier had a career year in Orlando and finished as the team’s leading scorer while establishing himself as a consistent offensive option. The problem is that he is better as a secondary option but the Magic, due to the lack of alternatives, have put the ball in his hands and asked him to break down defenses on his own. This has led to a drop in percentages in recent years and it might also be the cause of Fournier missing a significant amount of games due to injuries. Steve Clifford has praised Fournier‘s shape and work ethic ahead of camp this year, while he has spoken about how he likes his ability to work off screens. The Magic though have a gaping hole at point guard and unless Aaron Gordon takes a huge leap and becomes the primary facilitator, the burden will again be on Fournier to create, so his efficiency might drop even more. Still, he is still the team’s best shooter and even though Terrence Ross and Jonathon Simmons will compete with him for minutes the team will need his shooting at all times and he is a safe bet to return mid to late round value.
Timofey Mozgov, C, 32 years old, Russia
Mozgov has long become an afterthought in fantasy with his massive contract being moved three times the last couple seasons. Clifford has said the he is looking to experiment with different lineups and that Mozgov could step out and shoot corner 3s (!) but Orlando is stacked at center with Nikola Vucevic and Mo Bamba on the depth chart and I don’t see how he could earn minutes ahead of these guys unless a trade or an injury happens. He is probably going to spend a lot of time at the end of the bench and he might be a trade or buyout candidate as the season progresses.
Nikola Vucevic, C, 27 years old, Montenegro
Even though he managed to play only 57 games, Vucevic delivered an impressive fantasy year returning top-50 value and managing to surpass his ADP by optimizing his percentages and hitting an impressive 1.1 3-pointers a night. He has been a cornerstone of the franchise since being an integral part of the Dwight Howard trade in 2012, but the Magic have expressed their love for Bamba and look to continue rebuilding their franchise with a rim protector at the center position rather than a scoring big with defensive limitations. Vucevic will probably start the season at center as Bamba simply is not ready for the heavy minute load that comes with being a NBA starter but at some point, and likely this season since Vucevic has an expiring contract, he will have to give way to Bamba. The Magic are clearly on a rebuilding path but Steve Clifford is not just going to unleash his young players and he might even opt to stick with his veterans if this team can somehow stay close to the playoff race. Clifford raised the possibility that he could play Nikola Vucevic and Mohamed Bamba in lineups together and that makes it even harder to predict how the season evolves for Vuc as a trade could either boost or hurt his numbers while a lot will depend on the team’s developmental approach.
Tomas Satoransky, PG/SG, 26 years old, Czech Republic
The extended absence of All-Star point guard John Wall opened the door for backup Tomas Satoransky to get starter’s minutes for two full months and it was an opportunity that he used to boost his confidence and make a big impression. Through the 24-game stretch without Wall, Satoransky averaged 10.6 points, 5.9 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.1 steals, shooting 53.4 percent from the field and 52.1 percent from three while his assist-to-turnover ratio (3.62) was the sixth-best in the NBA. He surpassed Tim Frazier in the rotation for the rest of the year but just before the playoffs started the Wizards signed Ty Lawson and inexplicably played him instead of Sato in a quick first-round exit at the hands of the Raptors. The addition of Austin Rivers this offseason won’t make things easier and minutes will be tough to come by unless an injury in the Wizards’ fragile backcourt occurs. He is not a dynamic enough playmaker to be an NBA starter, but a solid two-way guard with positional versatility that should continue to provide a lot of value off the bench. Keep him in your mind in deeper leagues.
Thank you for checking us out this article and please check us back again next week as we examine the international players in the Southwest Division. 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.