• 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:

    ATLANTA HAWKS

    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.

    CHARLOTTE HORNETS

    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.

    MIAMI HEAT

    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.

    ORLANDO MAGIC

    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.

    WASHINGTON WIZARDS

    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.

Fantasy News

  • Kyrie Irving
    PG, Brooklyn Nets

    According to Adrian Wojnarowski, Kyrie Irving (right shoulder) could conceivably join his Nets' teammates in Orlando when they return to play later this summer, albeit as an inactive player.

    There was really never much of a possibility that Irving would return to action in 2019-20 unless the season got pushed back severely. After the arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder in late February, the Nets tentatively said they expected to have him back in time for preseason workouts in the fall (which will now likely take place in November or later). That still seems like the likely scenario, even given the long pause the league was forced to undergo. Caris LeVert had shown flashes of brilliance again this season after he returned from injury, so he and Spencer Dinwiddie will evidently be shouldering the ball-handling duties when the Nets take the floor in Orlando.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowksi on Twitter

  • Kevin Durant
    SF, Brooklyn Nets

    Kevin Durant (right Achilles) confirmed on Friday that he will not take the court for the Nets when they return to play in Orlando in late July and early August when they close out the 2019-20 season.

    Given the extended pause to the current season due to the COVID-19 outbreak, there were many who believed the Nets could plausibly try to bring back both Durant and Kyrie Irving from their respective injuries in order to make a push for a championship later this summer. Evidently, Durant will remain out of the equation for the Nets as they look to close out the season on a high note. "My season is over," Durant said. The Nets currently sit in seventh place in the Eastern Conference and will have to maintain that position in order to avoid the planned play-in bracket to decide the eighth seed after the initial eight final "regular season" games. Durant has never seemed likely to play, even with the pandemic disrupting the season, and it seems as though he won't be playing for the Nets in Orlando. Much crazier things have happened, though.

    Source: The Undefeated

  • Kelly Oubre Jr.
    SF, Phoenix Suns

    Kelly Oubre Jr. (torn right meniscus) will be able to take the floor for the Suns when the NBA returns to play in Orlando on July 31, the team's owner Robert Sarver said on Friday.

    This is phenomenal news for the Suns, as Oubre had really been having a breakout season for the Suns (18.7 PTS, 6.4 REB, 1.5 AST, 1.3 STL, 0.7 BLK and 1.9 threes per game in 34.5 minutes) prior to going down with a torn meniscus in late February. He was originally expected to miss the rest of the 2019-20 season, but due to the pandemic he has recovered and will evidently be fully functional for a team that currently sits in 13th place in the Western Conference. They will have quite the uphill battle to force their way into the playoff field in August, as there will only be eight regular season games played before the playoffs are set.

    Source: Arizona Sports

  • Jonathan Isaac
    PF, Orlando Magic

    The President of Basketball Operations for the Magic, Jeff Weltman, said Friday that the team does not expect Jonathan Isaac (left knee) to return when league play resumes, but that they will also be letting his rehab program dictate his timetable.

    Isaac has been sidelined since the beginning of January after a serious injury to his left knee.
    He was scheduled to be re-evaluated in 8-10 weeks but the impact of the coronavirus has muddled things up with many players, Isaac included. The Magic don't want to risk Isaac's immediate future, as he is under contract for one more season and is eligible for a qualifying offer prior to the 2021-22 season. With the Magic sitting in eighth place in the East and looking a (potential) fight for the right to face Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks in the first round of the playoffs as the eighth seed in August, the Magic brass may opt to keep Isaac out until the beginning of next season. That seems likely, at least.

    Source: 96.9 The Game on Twitter

  • Kawhi Leonard
    SF, Los Angeles Clippers

    Marc Stein is reporting that the NBPA has agreed to continue negotiations with the league for a 22-team restart to the season.

    Stein also noted that not everything is settled at this point, and more items need to be agreed upon before the NBPA is ready to sign and proceed forward with the resumption of games. It sounds like we're still on a path to an agreement, but the NBPA still has a few points to clarify before it is all said and done. Stay tuned.

    Source: Marc Stein on Twitter

  • LeBron James
    SF, Los Angeles Lakers

    Shams Charania is reporting that the NBPA informed players that they will be tested on a nightly basis for COVID-19 and a positive test will result in quarantine for a minimum of seven days.

    The resumption of play will also include 2-3 preseason games and a bubble of 1600 total people. Players will not have tracking devices on them but they are expected to stay in the bubble for the entire period. Everything is gradually coming together and the schedule for the return to play is becoming more and more clear for all parties.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Nikola Jokic
    C, Denver Nuggets

    According to head coach Mike Malone, Nikola Jokic has been staying in great shape during the lockout.

    Jokic has never been known for staying in shape, especially during the offseason, and it will be a legitimate surprise if he returns lighter than he was at the stoppage in play. He started the year on the slower side and was clearly looking behind out of the gate, but he was back to his usual first-round value by the time games came to a stop. He should be ready for action when the lockout comes to an end. His teammate Jamal Murray is claiming that Jokic now has a "little four pack".

    Source: The Athletic

  • Dejounte Murray
    PG, San Antonio Spurs

    The Spurs were dealing with injuries to LaMarcus Aldridge, Dejounte Murray, Jakob Poeltl and Lonnie Walker IV before the season was halted, but all four are expected to be "good to go" when the NBA resumes action.

    Poeltl (MCL sprain) was dealing with the most significant injury of the bunch, and if he's ready then everyone else will be as well. Aldridge was day-to-day with a shoulder strain, while Murray and his strained calf were the biggest headache for fantasy GMs before the season stopped. Initially given no timetable for return, he's ready to go and will split the PG work with Derrick White as the Spurs try to extend their playoff streak.

    Source: The Athletic

  • Darius Bazley
    PF, Oklahoma City Thunder

    Darius Bazley has recovered from a right knee bone bruise that he suffered in February.

    We're going to say that he's healthy after he was spotted playing pickup games this past week. Bazley was set to be re-evaluated 4-6 weeks after sustaining the injury and is good to go. He's not a lock to receive minutes in the postseason but more depth options never hurt anybody.

    Source: The Athletic

  • Andre Roberson
    SG, Oklahoma City Thunder

    Andre Roberson (left knee) may be able to play in the NBA's eight-game regular season, per The Athletic's Erik Horne.

    Roberson has been out since January of 2018 thanks to a ruptured patellar tendon and some subsequent setbacks, but he said back in April that he's past the rehab stage of his recovery. It would be tough to envision the Thunder granting Roberson a big role considering the severity of his injury and the length of his layoff, but there's a chance that the defensive stopper can make some impact for the team down the stretch. Either way, it will be great to see him back on the floor again.

    Source: The Athletic