• We’re thrilled to introduce Dio Nikiforos as the latest edition to the Hoop Ball team. Having spent years working with NetScouts to identify basketball talent at every level of the international ranks, he’ll be helping us get a little more familiar with players and prospects who are new to the NBA.

    Though it is rarely discussed, drafting the right piece might be the hardest and most underrated job in the NBA – even though technology gives everyone the ability to evaluate talent from their electronic devices instead of taking a plane some 6,000 miles away just to watch a young project. And although one would think that these tools help us get a better evaluation of talent, we are living in a world where international players are getting drafted by teams before many have seen them play at the highest level. Ivica Zubac and Nikola Jokic are great examples, as proven by the fact that both of them were drafted in the second round.

    In this year’s class let’s just look at Frank Ntilikina, who falls in that long list of European guys who carry some unpredictability despite lots of love from scouts and GMs. The scouting report on him is strong, and while we do have an idea about what to expect he is a rookie that will have his ups and downs. As far as fantasy players are concerned, you always have to remember that rookies rarely make the top-100 in standard leagues aside from very few exceptions.

    Enter Milos Teodosic, the newest member of LA Clippers who is coming to the NBA after more than 10 years of competitive basketball overseas. I’ve had the opportunity to watch his career unfold and although the transition to professional basketball in the NBA might seem rough, the preseason action so far has shown that he will have no problem adjusting to the NBA grind.

    So let’s try to project Teodosic’s numbers and fantasy impact based on what we know about his game so far.

    Games played: 70

    Minutes Per Game: 20 to 25

    Teodosic does not the most athletic body, and to be honest he looks unfit – the type of old school player who would smoke between halftime and eat cheeseburgers for breakfast. His 10-plus year career has proven that he is a warrior and he has no history of going under the knife for major health issues. The only exception would be a calf injury that bothered him in the past and forced him to miss the 2017 EuroBasket tournament.

    Owners should approach with caution as the calf has been a recurring issue for him through the years, but it will not be hard for him to keep up with the NBA’s heavy schedule. The hard reality that a lot of people are unaware of is that basketball at the European level can be much more physically demanding than the NBA. Overall, playing in Europe is much harder than playing in the NBA as far as fatigue goes, as teams in Europe will have practices twice a day, week after week. One player who felt that burden is Ekpe Udoh, who reportedly left a ton of money on the table for a minimum deal with Utah as he had had too much of the vigorous practice habits of top Euroleague coach Zeljko Obradovic.

    Points: 10.5 per game

    Teodosic has always been one of the top scoring options for all the teams he has played for as coaches trust him with the ball in his hands so he can create plays either by assisting or scoring. The Clippers’ talent level is pretty good in terms of players who possess high basketball IQ and understand spacing and rotations, so the rookie point guard will not have to carry the scoring burden on his shoulders. If  the usual suspects go down (Blake Griffin, Danilo Gallinari), however, he will have no problem taking on more scoring responsibilities. What makes him even more special is the clutch factor,as he has hit numerous game winning shots in his career already at every possible level.

    Threes: 1.5 per game

    He is an exceptional catch and shoot guard that possesses great vision and is not scared to shoot from anywhere in the floor with legit NBA range in his toolbox already. NBA fans will soon get accustomed to his signature move where he fakes the 3-point shot, turns around and immediately launches the same shot.

    Field Goal Percentage: .430

    Teodosic has a very quick release and enjoys shooting off balance from both mid-range and from deep. He can be erratic and will definitely have off nights, but I expect him to get less attention than usual with all the firepower around him in L.A. and to shoot close to 45 percent. He’s already accustomed to shooting from anywhere on the floor.

    Free Throw Percentage: .850

    Teodosic is an elite free throw shooter with a career average of 86 percent and you should expect similar production at the NBA level. He’s an amazing flopper who will take advantage of his skills to draw more points from the charity stripe.

    Rebounds: 1.8 per game

    A traditional pass-first point guard, there is obviously not much to be expected here.

    Assists: 6.5 per game

    Teodosic has mastered the pick and roll action in recent years and he will punish opponents with a plethora of options.

    He’s patient and very crafty, as he will take the time to read the situation and make the best available play either by taking the mid–range jumper, finishing at the rim or stepping back for a long jumper. The pass-to-roll action is already a hit and will provide us with plenty of highlights as DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin can be explosive finishing around the basket.

    The pass-to-help action will also cause a lot of problems to defenses as Lou Williams and Danilo Gallinari will drain the open three. What makes this offense even more dynamic is that the Clippers also have a bunch of cutters like Patrick Beverley, Austin Rivers and Sam Dekker whom Teodosic will look for in case double team action is forced upon him.

    Steals: 1.0 per game

    Even though he comes in the NBA with the reputation of a mediocre-to-bad defender, you should not underestimate his abilities to get steals. Teodosic’s hands are constantly active and he’s able to create deflections with his speed and quickness. His basketball IQ will also make an impact on the defensive side of the floor as he’s able to anticipate actions and avoid putting himself in bad defensive situations while drawing charges using his excellent flopping skills.

    Turnovers: 3.0 per game

    Assist to Turnover ratio: 2.0

    Teodosic used to drive his coaches crazy with risky plays and bold passes but the truth of the matter is that the NBA talent around him will already improve his assist production even if the occasional bad pass is mixed in. The Clippers like to run and this might create even more possibilities for easy assists or costly turnovers.

    Fouls/Technicals

    One thing that could potentially hurt his value would be fouls, as some teams will definitely identify his defensive weaknesses and will try to switch on him to create mismatches.

    Teodosic also fits the mold of the tough European who is not afraid of contact and will fight back if provoked. He had some maturity issues early on his career and will probably lose his temper when opponents play him tough, but he’s an amazing flopper who will easily take advantage of any chippy play.

    Summary

    Milos Teodosic is an exceptional talent who wanted to come to the NBA for the last few seasons and will now have a chance to prove that he belongs. He doesn’t have the physical skills of Toni Kukoc or Arvydas Sabonis, who both came to the NBA at a later stage in their careers, but he’s able to dominate the game with his passing abilities and will make some owners extremely happy. He’s currently projected to be outside the top-150 in 9-cat leagues but he will be a solid source of assists, threes and points in the later rounds.

Fantasy News

  • Kyrie Irving - G - Boston Celtics

    Marc Stein of The New York Times is reporting that the Nets believe they are the favorites to land Kyrie Irving in free agency.

    Irving to the Nets has been on overdrive the past few weeks, and it's looking almost certain that Irving will be on the Nets, Lakers or Knicks come July 1st. D'Angelo Russell may be playing elsewhere next season if the Nets acquire Irving in free agency. Stay tuned.

    Source: Marc Stein on Twitter

  • Rob Pelinka - Team - Los Angeles Lakers

    Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Lakers are aggressively pursuing the purchase of second-round picks in Thursday’s draft.

    In addition to trying to unload additional bench players, the Lakers would like to acquire a few second-round picks to round out their roster with minimum salary players. If the Lakers can get any late picks, it will give the team even more breathing room in free agency. The Lakers’ master plan after signing LeBron James last offseason is starting to shift into high gear.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Anthony Davis - F/C - Los Angeles Lakers

    Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Lakers are trying to expand the Anthony Davis trade to open up a max salary slot on July 6, by offering up Mo Wagner, Jemerrio Jones and Isaac Bonga to additional teams.

    The Lakers got their guy in AD, but they also want more wiggle room for another max guy and role players to fill out their roster. It seems that the team will do whatever it takes to get that third max player spot, aside from moving Kyle Kuzma. It seems very likely that another team will join in on the deal.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Kyrie Irving - G - Boston Celtics

    According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, since the season ended, Kyrie Irving has been communicating forthrightly with Celtics' officials both privately and publicly signaling that he will leave the team in free agency.

    It has been widely expected that Irving would leave the Celtics for a bit now, with the Nets being the team most analysts are pegging Irving end up with. With the news that Al Horford is going elsewhere, there is little reason to believe that Irving would stick around. We should have an official update on Irving's intentions soon enough.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Al Horford - F/C - Boston Celtics

    Sources close to Al Horford have told Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald that his camp is no longer discussing a new contract with the Celtics and he is expected to sign a 4-year deal elsewhere.

    A few short months ago the Celtics were pegged as the favorites to land Anthony Davis, and forming a new big three of there own. Flash forward to now, and Davis is on the Lakers, and it looks like both Horford and Kyrie Irving are set to leave. The Celtics couldn't have foreseen a worse start to the offseason.

    Source: Steve Bulpett on Twitter

  • James Jones - Team - Phoenix Suns

    First-year GM James Jones said that there are more than six good players in the draft and that the Suns are comfortable staying put at number six.

    Jones has a point, and if the team believes that they don’t need to move up to get the difference-maker that they’re targeting then staying put is the logical choice. If the Suns stand pat, they’ll be looking at drafting one of Darius Garland, Coby White, De’Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish and Jarrett Culver. Garland or White would fill the most glaring team need at PG if they’re still available.

    Source: AZ Central

  • David Griffin - Team - New Orleans Pelicans

    The Pelicans are considering trading the 4th overall selection to acquire more picks.

    One team that comes directly to mind is the Hawks, who have been rumored to be offering a trade package including the 8th and 10th selections to move up in the draft. The Hawks also have the 17th pick in the draft. Another team with multiple first rounders is the Celtics, who hold the 14th, 20th and 22nd picks. The Pelicans have also been rumored to be trying to move up to the 2nd pick in the Draft. We'll have to wait and see if there is any fire to all of this smoke.

    Source: Yahoo! Sports

  • Ted Leonsis - Team - Washington Wizards

    Wizards owner Ted Leonsis denied the team's reported interest in Raptors GM Masai Ujiri saying, "Any reports that we have interest in Masai Ujiri as a candidate are simply not true, and we have never planned in any way to ask for permission to speak to him during our process.”

    Ujiri is a former Executive of the year, and his Raptors just won the NBA Championship thanks in large part to the bold moves he executed in the past year. It is hard to believe that a team like the Wizards wouldn't want to make a pitch to the man who is at or near the top of his profession, but that is silly season for you. As for Ujiri, he'll have no shortage of pursuers should the Raptors grant teams permission to speak to him.

    Source: Washington Post

  • Chris Paul - G - Houston Rockets

    Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Rockets GM Daryl Morey denied that Chris Paul’s camp asked for a trade, while also saying that James Harden and Chris Paul do not have issues with one another.

    Morey also said that Paul will remain on the Rockets next season and that he has spoken to both often this offseason about free agency evaluations and plans. If there is any tension, it is unlikely that Morey would acknowledge that publicly, as it would essentially cripple the team’s already slim chances of moving Paul’s contract. Paul is 34 and making $124 million combined over the next three seasons.

    Source: Jonathan Feigen on Twitter

  • Dwight Powell - F/C - Dallas Mavericks

    Dwight Powell officially opted into the final year of his contract with the Mavs for $10.2 million, with both sides hoping to agree to an extension in July.

    Powell took offense to an earlier report from Yahoo! Sports that stated he would be turning down his player option, and now we have official word on why he was so upset. Powell's role next season is less certain with Kristaps Porzingis' imminent return and the Mavs having a ton of cap room available. Though, if the extension talks are accurate, we'd have to assume that Powell remains an important piece of the Mavs puzzle moving forward.

    Source: Marc Stein on Twitter