Seventeen international players declare for draft, you should care about a few

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This draft is not deep with international talent. It’s deep, loaded with homegrown talent here in the states, but this is not a deep year on for the players from overseas.

Still, 17 players declared for the draft the NBA announced, and you should get to know a few of them.

Like Evan Fournier, the 6’7” swingman out of France, likely to be drafted late in the first of early in the second round. He has played the top level of French ball the past couple seasons and can create his own shot off the dribble or step back and knock down the three. Well, he doesn’t hit the three consistently — his jump shot needs work — but that is fixable. Besides, in the NBA he won’t have to carry the load for a team like he does now. This is a guy who scouts say looks like a prototypical NBA wing.

Then there is likely second round pick Tomas Satoransky, a tall (6’7”) ball handling point guard who has the smart game and court sense you want with your point guard. He’s a good defender because of his length. He also needs to get a consistent outside shot, but he could develop into a quality guard.

Furkan Aldemir comes out of Turkey and is another guy likely to go in the second round. The 6’9” forward is a rebounder and defensive guy, not much on the offensive end but he’s an old-school, near the basket, physical four. He’s not going to star in the NBA but if you can get a guy who can give you quality minutes off the bench in the paint you got something of value.

DraftExpress.com has seven international players taken total in this draft, but only Fournier in the first round. The other internationals who declared for the draft are:

Jonas Bergstedt (Spain); 
Josep Franch (Spain); 
Maximilian Kleber (Germany); 
Lahaou Konate (France); 
Mindaugas Kupsas (Lithuania); 
Joffrey Lauvergne (France); 
Abdoulaye Loum (France); Nika Metreveli (Italy); 
Nemanja Nedovic (Serbia); 
Alen Omic (Slovenia); Jakub Parzenski (Poland); 
Sertac Sanli (Turkey); 
Tornike Shengelia (Belgium); 
Mathieu Wojciechowski (France).

Giannis Antetokounmpo out for Bucks-Suns Eric Bledsoe revenge game

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Giannis Antetokounmpoone of the NBA’s best players – won’t help new Bucks teammate Eric Bledsoe in a revenge game against the Suns tonight.

Not only is Milwaukee missing Mirza Teletovic and John Henson (and Matthew Dellavedova and Jabari Parker), Antetokounmpo is out.

Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Antetokounmpo will miss Wednesday’s game against the Phoenix Suns due to right knee soreness.

Antetokounmpo says his knee soreness is the same injury he dealt with in the off-season, which caused him to withdraw from the Greek national team.

“It feels good,” Antetokounmpo said after sitting out shootaround. “I’m just trying to be careful with it and not make any damage. That’s it, because it’s a long season and I’m trying to be careful.”

The Bucks have been outscored by 18.6 points per 100 possessions without Antetokounmpo this season (and are +2.3 without him). Phoenix isn’t good, but neither is Milwaukee without Antetokounmpo.

I don’t think Bledsoe will mind a chance to get more aggressive tonight, though.

Report: Mexico City could host NBA’s 31st minor-league team

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NBA commissioner Adam Silver said his league would look into placing a franchise in Mexico City.

Meanwhile, the NBA’s minor-league has affiliates for 26 of 30 NBA teams and counting. The league also has youth academies in China, India, Australia and Senegal – and also counting.

Jonathan Givony of  ESPN:

The NBA will announce a new basketball development and training academy in Mexico City during the Global Games December 7th and 9th, in conjunction with CONADE (Mexico’s National Commission for Physical Culture and Sport) and the Mexican Basketball Federation, sources told ESPN.

Mexico City could emerge as the 31st G League franchise, where prospects from the seven academies graduate up to, according to sources.

A minor-league team in Mexico City could be a nice testing ground for an NBA franchise. An unaffiliated minor-league team is also an interesting wrinkle, especially how it’d be stocked.

Ultimately, experimentation is a purpose of the NBA’s minor league. This would be running multiple test cases at once.

Lonzo Ball on his shot: “I feel like they’re going to fall. Just have to keep shooting.”

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Lonzo Ball‘s shooting woes this season have been well chronicled. Maybe even beaten to death — but when your father is a hype man, and Magic Johnson says you’re the “face of the franchise” it invites a whole new level of scrutiny. Doesn’t matter if it’s fair, it’s reality.

Rather than a cold recitation of the numbers, a look at Ball’s shot chart for the season says a 1,000 words worth.

Ball has admitted frustration but has said throughout he expects things to turn. He reiterated that in an interview on the Mason and Ireland Show on ESPN LA Radio. He likes the looks he’s getting, thinks they will start to go down. (Hat tip Lakers’ Nation.)

“I’m just missing shots. I definitely like the looks I’m getting. Most of them are wide open, people are going under screens. I feel like they’re going to fall. Just have to keep shooting and shooting with confidence.”

Ball is right. He is shooting 28.2 percent on shots where the defender is 4-6 feet away (22.9 percent from three on those), and 21.3 percent when the defender is 6 or more feet away (19.1 percent from three).

Those shots may start to fall — Luke Walton has preached the same thing to Ball, just keep shooting and it will come around. Right now Ball is in his own head about this, maybe guiding the shots rather than just firing away, but the Lakers aren’t going to rebuild his shot mid-season. He should just keep shooting.

Maybe of more concern is that 42.5 percent in the restricted area — if he isn’t a decent scoring threat on drives, it will hamper his entire passing game. He’s a rookie, he needs time to adjust to the speed, length, and physicality of the NBA, it’s far too early to say what he is and isn’t yet. But those finishing numbers are ones to watch.

Kevin Durant says “I plan on playing” against Thunder Wednesday

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After Kevin Durant missed the Warriors’ last game with a sprained ankle, there was some question about whether he would play on his latest return to Oklahoma City on Wednesday.

Doubt no more, he will play. Like we all expected.

Durant has a ring now and says he wants to move on from the drama surrounding his departure from Oklahoma City, but you can be sure plenty of Thunder fans don’t feel that way. KD will again have boos rained down on him all game.

This is obviously a very different Thunder team than the one Durant left, with the additions of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. While the Thunder have stumbled and blown leads (in six of their nine losses OKC had double-digit leads) this is a team with a lot of potential, as Durant discussed.