August 22, 2021, 7:51 pm
Welcome back Hoop Ballers to our offseason International Spotlight feature where we will be taking a look at the NBA Summer League action that took place the last few weeks and how most international players of interest performed.
Life in the NBA, and in general, has been absolutely weird the last year and a half, let alone the fact that Summer League was cancelled last offseason resulting in many rookies having to step into regular NBA games with zero playing experience against the level of competition that this league commands.
My feature once again is going to be broken down in two parts. This week we are going to examine how some 2nd and 3rd year international players performed, together with some former draft picks, while this year’s rookie class will be under the microscope next Friday.
I really don’t like calling out winners and losers in the summer tournaments since the game is somewhat more relaxed but I always have an eye on players who enhance their skills and show growth in areas where they previously struggled.
Killian Hayes, Detroit Pistons, PG
6.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 0.7 triples, 0.7 steals and 1.0 block on 32 percent from the field and 18 percent from the 3-point line in 3 games and 27.5 minutes per contest
With the Pistons taking Cade Cunningham at the top of the NBA Draft on June there were plenty of questions regarding the fit with Hayes since both need the ball in their hands in order to create. Hayes did average 4.7 assists per game but he also committed 3.3 turnovers, an area of concern since his rookie year, while the shot didn’t fall and the French guard will be undeniably entering the season with a lot of pressure. On a positive note, he was aggressive, attacking when he had the opportunity, and showed great signs of becoming a defensive force so the hope is that he will fit nicely next to Cunningham who is advertised as an instant-offense guy.
Fantasy barometer: Trending down but looks more like a buy-low at the moment without a full season yet under his belt
Sekou Doumbouya, Detroit Pistons, F
6.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.0 steal and 3.0 blocks on 43 percent from the field in 2 games and 25.7 minutes per contest
Doumbouya had to leave Summer League early due to a family obligation but he played really good defense in the two games he was present. The truth of the matter is that the lack of an offseason and a full G League last season hurt his progress since he is still very raw and in need of development. Sekou has struggled offensively, looking lost at times and relegating himself to just a guy who can run the floor, and the hope is that the Pistons will give him more minutes this season while also molding him into a defensive stopper with 3-and-D potential.
Fantasy barometer: Also on the way down and less enthusiastic about his long-term impact as he is destined to remain a defensive stopper if his shot doesn’t evolve
Killian Tillie, Memphis Grizzlies, PF/C
9.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 0.5 triples on 42 percent from the field and 13 percent from the 3-point line in 2 games and 25.3 minutes per contest
There are not many other players that used the summer to show off the skills that enamored front offices more than Killian Tillie, who played in 18 Grizzlies games last season on a two-way contract after he wasn’t selected in the 2020 NBA Draft, averaging 3.2 points and 1.3 rebounds in 10.1 minutes per game. The French forward showed great signs of being able to effectively stretch the floor as a big, forcing the Grizzlies to quickly re-sign him to a two-way deal even though they drafted a very similar prospect with him in Spanish forward Santi Aldama.
Fantasy barometer: Tillie looks great on paper but he needs to prove that he can produce against the elite talent level in the majors and until then he remains a deep league consideration only
Precious Achiuwa, Toronto Raptors, C
16.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.7 triples, 1.0 steal and 1.3 blocks on 60 percent from the field and 50 percent from the 3-point line in 3 games and 26.1 minutes per contest.
Achiuwa was one of the biggest winners of the offseason as, after a year in which he saw his role diminish with the Heat, he got traded to the Raptors – who are in big need of frontcourt help – while he enjoyed a nice run with team Nigeria at the Olympics. It wasn’t really clear why Achiuwa faded out after a strong start in his rookie season and the overall impression was that he just didn’t get much playing time on a team full of veterans so dynasty managers should be excited about his future. Precious was all over the place in Summer League, playing with the confidence and the attitude of a veteran and I just can’t wait to see how he carries on a strong summer to the regular season with the Raptors.
Fantasy barometer: He looks primed to be a sleeper in the upcoming season and the window of opportunity might be closed but you should try to buy as much stock as possible if he’s still available.
Jordan Nwora, Milwaukee Bucks, SF
21.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.0 steal and 1.8 triples on 35 percent from the field and 18 percent from the 3-point line in 4 games and 28.9 minutes per contest
Another individual with a strong summer playing with team Nigeria in the Olympics and dominating in Summer League, Nwora showed again why he is considered a strong offensive talent that simply needs to be decent on the defensive end of the floor. I was very high on Nwora since his rookie season since I considered him one of the most ready-to-produce guys coming out of four years in college and the Bucks will hopefully give him more opportunities going forward.
Fantasy barometer: It’s not a lock that Nwora gets minutes next year as the Bucks did acquire Grayson Allen and will be getting back Donte DiVincenzo so I would keep him on my watchlist in deeper leagues at this point
Mamadi Diakite, Milwaukee Bucks, PF/C
9.8 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.0 steal, 0.8 triples and 0.6 blocks on 40 percent from the field and 29 percent from the 3-point line in 5 games and 18.5 minutes per contest
Diakite didn’t receive much playing time in his rookie season but he was reportedly a very dynamic presence in team practices all year long and the Bucks do believe that they can develop him into a rotation piece. Summer League action proved that he is making progress, showing the same defensive tenacity he has been known for since his college days, as well as some range in his offense. Milwaukee remains without a backup center going into the season and he could find himself in the rotation if he earns the trust of coach Mike Budenholzer.
Fantasy barometer: Not much upside here as Diakite is mainly a defensive-minded forward so only keep an eye in him in deeper leagues
Didi Louzada, New Orleans Pelicans, SG
4.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.0 steal and 0.6 triples on 32 percent from the field and 17 percent from the 3-point line in 5 games and 20.0 minutes per contest
Louzada was brought in by the Pelicans late in the season last year but he failed to make an impression as the transition was too fast for him. New Orleans is desperate for shooting and the Brazilian guard has a knack for scoring but he still looks like he’s a couple years ago from becoming a consistent offensive option.
Fantasy barometer: You have to play the long game here as Louzada was signed by Pelicans to a four-year deal meaning that he is likely going to develop in the G League starting next season
Theo Maledon, Oklahoma City Thunder, G
9.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, 6.4 assists, 2.0 triples and 0.2 steals on 33 percent from the field and 36 percent from the 3-point line in 5 games and 28.7 minutes per contest
Maledon was a positive presence in this year’s Summer League, showing no signs of being affected by the Thunder extending Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and drafting another point guard in Josh Giddey. He looked very comfortable once he stepped on the floor, finding his teammates and limiting his turnovers, which was one of his biggest issues as a rookie. His frame also looked built up and I can see him taking a leap going into his sophomore season, being able to use the extra muscle to his advantage.
Fantasy barometer: Maledon still has big holes in his game but the signs of progress were evident and there is hope that he could deliver fantasy value once his game is polished
Ignas Brazdeikis, Orlando Magic, SG
8.8 rebounds, 3.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.2 steals, 1.0 triple and 0.6 blocks on 40 percent from the field and 33 percent from the 3-point line in 5 games and 18.5 minutes per contest
Brazdeikis had a strong finish for the Magic after he was signed to a couple 10-day contracts and Orlando was impressed enough to give him a two-way contract. The Lithuanian guard has consistently shown flashes of offensive brilliance in a couple Summer Leagues so far but the truth of the matter is that he is one-dimensional and destined to be a deep backup on NBA teams.
Fantasy barometer: The Magic are loaded in the backcourt and will prioritize the development of their young core so Ignas looks like insurance at the moment and doesn’t deserve fantasy consideration
Bruno Fernando, Boston Celtics, F/C
9.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.5 steal and 1.0 block on 75 percent from the field in 4 games and 17.6 minutes per contest
Fernando was called into a relatively big role in his rookie season and showed some potential as a stretch big but the landing of Clint Capela in Atlanta and the ensuing draft of Onyeka Okongwu pretty much killed his fantasy stock. He was part of a summer blockbuster that landed him in Boston and showed up ready to play in Summer League, effectively forcing the Celtics to replace Tacko Fall as a defensive anchor that can provide backup insurance.
Fantasy barometer: There is no clear path to playing time in Beantown behind Al Horford, Robert Williams and Enes Kanter so Fernando looks like an afterthought right now
Bol Bol, Denver Nuggets, F
21.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 2.3 blocks and 2.0 triples on 44 percent from the field and 40 percent from the 3-point line in 3 games and 26.9 minutes per contest
Bubble sensation Bol Bol delivered another marvelous performance in this year’s Summer League that again had fantasy managers and trading cards enthusiasts drool over his eye-popping stat lines but the reality check question remains the same: what position could Bol Bol play in the NBA??
Fantasy barometer: With the Nuggets loading on their frontcourt it seems unlikely that he gets to crack the rotation once again
Chimezie Metu, Sacramento Kings, F
10.0 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.0 steals, 1.3 triples and 0.8 blocks on 32 percent from the field and 26 percent from the 3-point line in 4 games and 25.1 minutes per contest
Metu also had a busy summer, getting to play in the Olympics with Nigeria while he showed up at Summer League ready to dominate as a fourth-year player who is coming into his own. Things didn’t turn quite good though as his percentages were abysmal and he missed the opportunity to play in the Championship game after he punched an opponent in the previous game. His physical skills remain intriguing but he hasn’t been able to translate them into consistent basketball production.
Fantasy barometer: Metu has another year in his contract but it’s likely that he will be competing for a roster spot come training camp and he needs to show progress rapidly
The Deep Finds
Omer Yurtseven, Miami Heat, PF/C
20.0 points, 9.7 rebounds, 2.7 blocks, 1.7 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.0 triple on 48 percent from the field and 27 percent from the 3-point line in 3 games and 30.8 minutes per contest
Not many fantasy managers are familiar with Yurtseven but the Turkish big had an impressive college career before going undrafted and last year he played for the Oklahoma City Blue in the G League before the Heat grabbed just before the end of the 2020-21 NBA season. The Heat did miss Kelly Olynyk last year and they know that the ideal piece next to Bam Adebayo is a stretch forward/big; while P.J. Tucker looks like the veteran that makes sense it seems that there is a path for Yurtseven getting an opportunity to play for the Heat immediately, especially after what Pat Riley had to say about the young big. “Omer will be a great developmental center/power forward to play alongside Bam, and has shown his willingness to commit to the work needed to get to the next level“. If that’s not enough to get the #YURTSZN going, then what is!?
Fantasy barometer: The Heat have a long record of finding hidden gems and giving them the opportunity to flourish so don’t be surprised if Yurtseven is this year’s Kendrick Nunn or Duncan Robinson.
Marko Simonovic, Chicago Bulls, C
12.0 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.4 steals on 50 percent from the field and 50 percent from the 3-point line in 5 games and 12.0 minutes per contest
Arturas Karnisovas and the Bulls selected Simonovic 44th overall in the second round of the 2020 NBA Draft and fans didn’t really get to see much of him until this summer. Simonovic was one of the most productive and efficient big men in Vegas, showing the ability to protect the rim, draw turnovers, and run fluidly in transition. Not surprisingly the Bulls signed him to a rookie deal and he will be in Chicago this year.
Fantasy barometer: He brings versatility and has the skill set to become an effective scoring big so he should be on your watchlist even though it will be hard for him to get playing time on a team full of veterans.
Thank you for reading this week’s article and please make sure to tune in next week for Part II of our Summer League special. Stay up to date on all the breaking news and rumors posted on our website and on our Twitter account @HoopBallFantasy.