July 20, 2018, 4:52 pm
Welcome back Hoop Ballers to our International Spotlight weekly feature where we will be taking a look at how some 2nd and 3rd year international players performed during this year’s Summer League. I don’t really like calling out winners and losers in the summer tournaments but there are always some highs and lows that give us a glimpse about the future of certain individuals in the league.
Guerschon Yabusele, Boston Celtics, PF
12.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 0.7 steals and 0.8 blocks in 26.3 minutes per game
Yabusele came out of the tournament claiming his time in Vegas was beneficial and positive, and he specifically emphasized on the opportunity to play both the 4 and the 5 position. The young forward looked more comfortable and as he is entering his second season with the Celtics it looks like he is still adjusting to the complicated offensive system of Brad Stevens. The team team is trying to develop him into a playmaking big just like Al Horford and while Yabusele still needs to shred some weight he should have more opportunities in his sophomore year.
Willy Hernangomez, Charlotte Hornets, C
18.3 points, 12.0 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.8 blocks in 28 minutes per game
Considered a veteran by Summer League standards, Hernangomez has been a double-double machine every time he gets the minutes. The Knicks and the Hornets were loaded at the center position last year and Hernangomez had a disappointing sophomore season but he was among the most consistent players in Las Vegas, notching a double-double in all four games. The Hornets shipped Dwight Howard out of Charlotte at the beginning of the summer but there is still a bit of a logjam there, with Cody Zeller, Frank Kaminsky and Bismack Biyombo all in contention for playing time so it’s not a lock that the Spaniard will be getting major minutes.
Cedi Osman, Cleveland Cavs, SF
20.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 2.5 steals and 1.0 blocks per game in 31.5 minutes
Cedi clearly dominated Summer League in just a couple games with the Cavs, showing some much needed leadership skills. His game seems to slowly develop and Kyle Korver reportedly helped him with his stroke last year in Cleveland so the Turkish forward might be a breakout candidate this upcoming season.
Ante Zizic, Cleveland Cavs, C
20.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 26.5 minutes per game
The 21-year-old center was also extremely comfortable in a couple games in Las Vegas and he could see an expanded role if the Cavs fall out of playoff contention. I took a look into him a few months ago.
Zhou Qi, Houston Rockets, C
12 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 3.0 blocks per game in 21.3 minutes
Qi didn’t have many opportunities to see the floor for the Rockets last season, spending most of his time in the G-League where he averaged 11.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocks while shooting 33.3 percent from deep. The Chinese center still has work to do, but his participation in Summer League this year was positive and he might be trending in the right direction as a rim protector who can stretch the floor for a Rockets team that still hasn’t re-signed Clint Capela.
Cheick Diallo, New Orleans Pelicans, PF/C
20.0 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.0 blocks in 28.5 minutes
The third-year big man looked great making the case about earning more reserve frontcourt minutes but it’s going be tough to do so in New Orleans with Nikola Mirotic and Julius Randle destined to dominate the minutes next to Anthony Davis.
Furkan Korkmaz, Philadelphia Sixers, SG
16.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 2.0 assists in 25 minutes per game.
The former 26th pick in the 2016 NBA Draft played really well in Summer League and the team just traded away the two guys who he would’ve competed with for minutes (Justin Anderson and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot so it seems that there is finally a path for him to get some minutes.
Frank Ntilikina, New York Knicks, PG
11.0 points, 5.5 assists and 1.5 steals in 28.5 minutes per game
The French youngster played in only the Knicks’ first two games after sustaining a groin injury which isn’t considered serious. He offered a mixed bag, struggling in the opener and bouncing back the next day, showing some aggressiveness right from the beginning. Coach David Fizdale plans to stick with Ntilikina playing only the point guard position and he has been adamant about challenging him to play more selfishly on the offensive end of the floor. The competition for the starting job in New York looks open and the team will likely use the 2018-19 season to determine if Ntilikina is capable of potentially developing into a full-time, starting-caliber point guard.
Chinanu Onuaku, Houston Rockets, C
5.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 11.8 minutes per game
It’s hard to see Chinanu Onuaku making it past this summer on the Rockets and it’s really just his awkward free throw shooting that has made him famous in the NBA so far.
Terrance Ferguson, Oklahoma City Thunder, SG
7.0 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.0 steals in a team-leading 28.8 minutes per game
The 20-year-old was handed heavy responsibility by the Thunder staff who put the ball in his hands, but he didn’t look fluid as he shot just 30 percent and averaged a little bit over one assist. It’s unclear whether Dennis Schroder’s arrival will have any impact on his minutes but the path for a starting gig is definitely something on the deep horizon.
Jonah Bolden, Philadelphia Sixers, PF/C
6.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.0 blocks in 23 minutes per game
A subpar Summer League by the Aussie had many wondering if he would end up playing in Philadelphia this year but the Sixers are really high on him and they ended up trading away Richaun Holmes today in order to sign him to a four-year deal. Bolden was too eager to try and make a play, often rushing and forcing a mistake while shooting just 35 percent from the field but even though he had his ups and downs on the defensive side of the ball, he has shown the ability to be a solid defender. Bolden didn’t really put up great numbers in Europe last season and finding minutes for him in Philadelphia is still going to be tough but he will only get better by training with NBA coaches and getting a handful of minutes in the G-League.
Dragan Bender, Phoenix Suns, PF/C
6.6 points and 5.2 rebounds on just 37 percent shooting from the field
The Dragon’s third Summer League was highlighted by the inconsistency that has been characterizing his NBA career so far. Bender shot better from deep last season while becoming a more active playmaker and I’m looking forward to seeing how the new coaching staff under Igor Kokoskov utilizes him in Phoenix.
Other Names to Watch
Alpha Kaba, Atlanta Hawks, PF/C
7.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.4 blocks in just 16 minutes in five games
Kaba, the last pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, had a promising Summer League after gaining some weight and being able to hold his ground against NBA caliber players but I think he’s still 1-2 years away from being on an NBA roster. A 6’10”, 225 lb. big man who played last season in the French Pro A League, his season was interrupted due to knee tendinitis but he returned for the playoffs and had a strong finish to the year.
Isaiah Hartenstein, Houston Rockets, C
10.3 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.0 steals and 2.3 blocks in 22.0 minutes per game
As expected, last year, during his first Summer League, Hartenstein looked shaky, nervous, and somewhat afraid on the court but a year of professional experience has done wonders as he looks stronger, more confident and eager to prove himself. The German big man can shoot the ball well, is a sneaky source of rim protection, makes his free throws and is a capable ball handler that can pass out of the pick-and-roll action. With Nene getting older, and Onuaku still a ways from contributing, Hartenstein is discussing a potential deal with the Rockets and there is a chance he gets some backup big man minutes for Houston this upcoming season.