So here we are again Razzball nation, another week down and another action packed weekend of NBA action just around the corner. The week has seen the good (James Harden putting up back-to-back 15 assist nights on Tuesday and Wednesday), the bad (injuries to Al Horford, Jae Crowder, Jeremy Lin, Will Barton and Ricky Rubio) and the ugly (Sam Dekker tripping over his own feet on a clear path to the basket to bounce the ball off his face).

Today I will be focusing on a somewhat specialist subject of mine: European basketball players plying their trade outside of the USA. Being European myself, and residing 50 miles south of London, my fascination for basketball in Euroleague and domestic leagues across Europe matches that of my love for the NBA and NCAA game (albeit, not doing my laptop much good with illegal streaming for domestic European league basketball from some questionable sites).

Ante Zizic,  19 years old, Center (Drafted 23rd overall):

If we rewind the clock back to August 31st –to the 1st edition of my Dynasty Rookie Rankings – you would have seen an aggressive ranking (13th) on the Croatian big man, despite knowing the talented 19 year old was going overseas for the season back to the Adriatic league. One of my favorite European players from this year’s draft, the Croatian had already made himself one of the most talked about players in the Adriatic league (a league in which recent seasons has produced NBA big men Jusuf Nurkic, Nikola Jokic and Nikola Pekovic) with his elite level production as one of the youngest players. The 23rd overall pick for the Celtics has started the season extremely strong, leading the Adriatic league in index rating with a whopping 30.3; to put that into context, that is double the value of every player in the league through 7 games outside of the top 9 players (a list that includes quality players such as Rade Zagorac and Luka Mitrovic who sit 8th and 28th in index rate respectively).

Through the first seven games Zizic is currently averaging 21 points per game on a whopping 71.6% (53-74) shooting while also shooting 82% from the line (41-50). Add to this outstanding efficiency 9.2 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 0.6 steals per game and you have the makings of a 19 year old in professional basketball who is learning to take his game to the next level in a very competitive league. It is evident the muscle strength that Zizic has gained this season and how he is using it to gain prime offensive position in the paint – highlighted by the problems he is causing opponents by going to the line just over 7 times per game.

The 6’11 center is extremely strong, and uses his body well in the pick and roll. He is strong on the defensive end as well, and runs the floor extremely well. Zizic doesn’t have the most attractive offensive game, and he lacks any range in his shooting limiting his fantasy upside somewhat, but I expect in the future Zizic to have the potential to be a double-double threat after a few seasons of development with a good chance of starting his NBA career sooner rather than later, especially given the fact that Amir Johnson, Kelly Olynyk and Jonas Jerebko all hit free agency in the summer. Ante Zizic is a high floor player, whom I fully expect to see have a significant rotation role in the NBA. If you are in a dynasty league that affords you enough roster space to stash players, then you could do a lot worse than one of the rising stars in European basketball.

Still not sold on Ante Zizic? The following table shows you the impact he made pre-draft in the 2015-16 season among the top European based prospects playing professional basketball.


Guerschon Yabusele, 20 years old, Small Forward (Drafted 16th overall):

The Shanghai Sharks Guerschon Yabusele (16) shoots against the Houston Rockets Chinanu Onuaku (21) in the second half of an NBA basketball exhibition game Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/George Bridges)

The Shanghai Sharks Guerschon Yabusele (16) shoots against the Houston Rockets Chinanu Onuaku (21) in the second half of an NBA basketball exhibition game Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016, in Houston. 

The latest potential ”future wannabe NBA star” to be playing his trade in the land of the rising sun is the French 16th overall selection Guerschon Yabusele. Much like the aforementioned Zizic, you would already know from my dynasty rookie rankings that this is a player who I ranked aggressively and I greatly believe in the skill set. For those of you that missed the first edition of the dynasty rookie rankings, here is what I wrote about the talented forward back in August:

”Although playing his basketball overseas for the 2016-17 season, the ‘Dancing Bear’ brings a rare physique for a man of his size and a toughness you can’t teach. With the ability to stretch the floor, the French native has the raw skill set to be able to adapt to the modern NBA with high success, and the Celtics will be hoping that they have hit a long term home run in the 16th overall pick. We have seen similar undersized forwards have great success in the modern NBA, and with increased maturity and more seasoning, the ‘Dancing Bear’ could be a big name to watch for the future. It’s only because Guerschon is playing overseas that I list him so low.”

Watching Chinese basketball reminds me of watching The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air back in the day, and a particular episode featuring the school basketball team whose coach has the sole tactic of ‘Pass the ball to Will’. It is no secret that the Chinese basketball league is devoid of domestic talent, and is heavily reliant on imported players (often those past their prime, or have already failed in the NBA) but it is still a professional league none-the-less that often serves as a much needed development stage for the younger player.

With the Chinese domestic league just 2 games into the season, it’s difficult to read too much, but in both games the ‘Dancing Bear’ put up impressive stat lines, most recently against the Jiangsu TX (a side that features Jared Cunningham, Dejuan Blair and my new favorite name in basketball Zhendong Zhendong). Through 26 minutes the forward put up 21 points, 12 rebounds, a block and 4 threes without turning the ball over once. This comes off the back of a very impressive debut in which the Frenchman scored 29 points with 11 rebounds and 5 treys (That is now 9-18 from downtown through 2 games). Both games resulted in wins for Shanghai.

The Shanghai Dongfang Sharks are surely going to be fun to watch this year with their imported players being Jimmer and the Dancing Bear (Import dancing pun here…………….), and with Yabusele having the type of skill set that is craved in the modern day NBA, would it be a surprise to anyone to see this uniquely gifted player have significant success in the NBA after more seasoning?

News and Notes:

  • You know that buy low window on Kris Dunn I was talking about last week? Well that is now truly gone with the news Ricky Rubio is out indefinitely with a sprained elbow. Drawing his first ever start for the Timberwolves the PG put up a commendable 10 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds and an incredible 5 steals. The 1st round pick then followed this up with another strong performance in a tight loss to the Nuggets Thursday dishing out 9 assists and swiping another 3 steals. It is likely that Dunn is scooped up in your league already, but if the league is sleeping and he is available then you need to ensure that Dunn is a part of your roster.
  • Who was that guy that sneaked into the top 20 of my Dynasty Rookie Rankings?…..Yep, Deyonta Davis, and what a game he had with Marc Gasol having a planned night off. the 2nd round pick for the Grizzlies put up an impressive 17 points, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks and steal in 26 minutes. Yes the game had early garbage time, but is a reminder of the fantasy friendly skill set that he possesses.
  • Bucks second round pick Malcolm Brogdon had himself quite the game on Tuesday, playing 24 minutes and rewarding owners with 14 points, 4 assists, 2 rebounds and a three. Most impressive of all though was his efforts on the defensive end in which he picked 4 pockets. The 2nd round pick followed this up with a strong performance against the Pacers adding another 12 points, 3 steals, 5 assists and a block. It is hard to trust a Jason Kidd rotation, but performances like this are surely earning Kidd’s trust and putting him firmly in the mix to continue receiving 24 minutes per game (as he has done last two outings) in the absence of Kris Middleton.
  • Jaylen Brown took advantage of Jae Crowder’s ankle injury Thursday night by picking up 35 minutes in a start against LeBron James and the Cavaliers. The first round pick took full advantage and rewarded fantasy owners with a stat stuffing performance putting up 19 points (8-16 shooting), 3 treys, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals and a block. With Crowder expected to miss at least two weeks expect Brown to be a hot pickup in all leagues following a performance like this.
  • Jamal Murray drew the start on Thursday in the absence of Will Barton Thursday night but had a forgettable night on the offensive end. Through the 29 minutes played the 7th overall pick from the 2016 draft went 0-8 from the floor and finished the game scoreless. Nights like this will happen for the talented combo guard, and maybe you can use performances like this to buy low in dynasty leagues for the talented combo guard.
  • With Ersan Ilyasova out of town Domantas Sabonis had his most productive outing of the young season Thursday in a loss against the Warriors scoring 13 points with 6 rebounds, a block and a three against the Warriors.  With Ghostface now in Philly the Thunder really lack a frontcourt who can stretch the floor and this could leave the door open for the occasional trey for the Lithuanian. Don’t get too excited about this outing, especially given the nature of the blowout loss (especially given the fact Enes Kanter only played 3 minutes in the game), but Sabonis might have some cheap DFS upside later in the season when facing teams who like to play a lot of small ball.

Be sure to tune in next Saturday for more player development news in and around the NBA.

All statistics are correct at time of writing (4th November). You can find me on twitter @storytelling41

  1. Looseal says:

    Thanks for the column, Craig. We had two N/A slots in my baseball keeper league a few years back for stashing minor league prospects, but I don’t think Yahoo allows such a thing in basketball.

    I have a question about young point guards: Dunn, Mudiay, Payton. In a points league where bricks and TOs are penalized, so I dropped Mudiay (instead of Payton) for Dunn. All three have their shooting woes, but at least Payton seems to be a good assister and getting his teammates involved. Dunn still makes a ton of dunderheaded PG plays, but I thought he’s worth getting because he could theoretically turn it around. Mudiay scares me—he’s athletic and has no competition for minutes, but his bricklaying and turnover habits haven’t improved much.

    Do you see Mudiay having the potential to lessen the low-assist, high-brick/TO by the end of this year? Was I right to drop him for Dunn and Payton?

    Side question: If Jaylen Brown loses his minutes after Crowder gets back, get Mudiay, Kilpatrick, RHJ?

    • Craig Bozic

      Craig says:

      @Looseal: I think you made the right move bearing in mind efficiency hurts. Mudiay has some nice stats from tune to time but as you know often comes at a cost of the bricks and TO’s, and with the current depth the Nuggets have and Murray having ball handling skills he could lose a few minutes as the season progresses if the TO rate is high.

      I still believe in RHJ and am actually trying to buy low, shooting efficiency will always be a problem but you draft him/trade for him for those elusive steals and blocks, much like Bob Covington. Naturally in a points league though depends how the steals abd blocks are scored as to whether it is worth Persuing this type of player so a Kilpatrick of Mudiay pick up probably makes more sense in a points league.

    • Craig Bozic

      Craig says:

      @Looseal: apologies on late response, big day here in the UK being bonfire night do have been celebrating with the family.

  2. Craig Bozic

    Craig says:

    The one saving grace you have with Dunn is that at this point the bricks will be minimal, especially given the shooting priority at the timberwolves currently. Mudiay will put up some nice stat lines, but as you stated it comes at the cost of the TO’s and bricks. I still believe that RHJ has plenty of game in the tank, but much like Mudiay you kind of want him to not really shoot much.

    I think you made the right call.

    On the side note it may be worth seeing how Brown does over the next couple of weeks, but i wouldn’t hold back on making the switch to a Mudiay/RHJ/Kilpatrick type once Crowder returns. With Brooklyn lacking identity it is hard to trust anyone there long term at the moment, but the likelhood is that Brown goes back to around the mid teens mark on the return of Crowder.

  3. Bulldogs2016 says:

    I signed Mr Zizic late last week. Hopefully he comes over to the NBA next season.

    I thought we’ would see a bit more of Taurean Prince and Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot in the opening few weeks. Surely Timothé would get some burn soon. Covington couldn’t throw a ball into the side of a building right now and Hendo, Stauskas and Hollis-Thompson are his competition. Do you think more minutes in the next week or so or D-League bound. Prince seems well down in the pecking order so not expecting to see him much for a while.

    • Craig Bozic

      Craig says:

      @Bulldogs2016: I thought we would see more of Taurean Prince too, and as a Baylor fan I was hoping to see a more immediate impact. But we are only 2 weeks into the season and there is a lot to like from the athletic man. don’t think any minutes are immediate, but the Hawks in recent seasons are not frightened of promoting from the D-League as and when the need arrives (If that is the direction the Fresh Prince is heading)

      Luwawu i expected to see a slower progression. He came from an extremely young (although exciting) squad at Mega Lekks (That included Zubac and Zagorac) and with the nature of the 76’s direction fgured he wouldn’t be rushed. I still am a very big fan of the skill set though, just with a lot of rookies will take time. As painful as it is seeing Covington throwing bricks, his game at the defensive end has still been excellent, and with Jerami Grant out of town the mnutes will remain there I think because of the effort on the defensive end.

      • Bulldogs2016 says:

        @Craig: Did you see the flush from Timothe in junk time today. Nice.

        • Craig Bozic

          Craig says:

          @Bulldogs2016: I haven’t as of yet, was too busy getting my D’Antoni and Harden fix but will be sure to check it out.

  4. Matthew Petrone says:

    Can I cut bait on Justin Anderson
    I have a good team I’m already stashing
    Wade Baldwin
    Jamal Murray

    I like to use my moves to make up for wasted stash spots to keep up
    Points league
    I have Dwight powel and Anderson I’m thinking about getting rid of both
    Too soon or good to go?

    • Craig Bozic

      Craig says:

      @Matthew Petrone: I like the stash of Baldwin and Murray, just gotta be patient (especially with the rosters they are on).

      It has been disapointing and rather odd seeing the lack of minutes for Dwight Powell, especially after the contract he has just signed and with Dirk injured. Depending on the size of the league I would be happy t move on from both. Anderson has shown some nice flashes in his young career, but until the injury bug is in full swing in Dallas then I would be looking elsewhere to accumulate points in a points league

  5. Steve says:

    @Craig: I must say, I love your articles. With the exception of Mirotic and Saric, I really had very little info on basketball outside of the US for the last few years. I’m in a couple deep dynasty leagues that really value prospects and youth. Your dynasty rookie rankings really helped me in one of my rookie drafts as I ended up with Zizic, Yabulese, and Deyonta Davis. I obviously am looking forward to future articles to keep me in the overseas loop.

    I did end up taking Chriss 4th overall, though. I believe you had Murray in that spot, but I’m in complete rebuild mold, so I took the guy I perceive to have a greater chance to be a star.

    Any thoughts on doing a dynasty top 150-250 ranking? I realize they can be extremely time consuming and a fluid thing that can change the day after they are posted, but I’d love to see your thoughts on a lot of different guys. McCollum for 1, after I just gave up a king’s random for him in one league.

    • Craig Bozic

      Craig Bozic says:

      @Steve: Really appreciate the kind words Steve. JB is your rankings man but be sure to check out future articles for movers and shakers in the Dynasty section.

      Murray and Chriss were very interchangable at 4 & 5 in the rankngs for me.Zero issues taking Chriss over Murray and in certain situations would actually endourse it, especially given the nature of the Suns development path.

      I am a big fan of McCollum and have been for some time, and evidence that you can sit on talent for a couple of years before the value comes up trumps. The ssue i had with CJ heading into this season (much like guys like Jokic) is that every bit of value has now been squeezed out of them by their aggressive ADP’s in fantasy drafts. That being said, CJ has a good chance of putting up draft day value over the course of the season and beyond but don’t see the potential to leapfrog a great deal further in development.

Comments are closed.