The night of June 21 will be a big night for Isaac Bonga as well as for Fraport Skyliner fans who might take a holiday day, sick day or go to work with only a few hours of sleep not wanting to miss exactly where the German basketball talent will be drafted. He could be the third player drafted in the Skyliners club history after Croatian Mario Kasun in 2002 and Senegal center Malick Badiane was in 2003. The 18 year old Bonga who is a 205cm guard could be the youngest player drafted this season and belongs to the top German talents at the moment and has decided to stay in the draft. He had declared for the 2018 NBA Draft recently, but had the option to withdraw his name until June 11th in order to wait another year, but instead he will try his luck this season. Bonga recently completed his second professional season with the Fraport Skyliners playing 34 BBL games averaging 6,0ppg, 3,1rpg,2,2apg and 1,0spg while shooting 33% from outside. There was speculation that the German would withdraw as his name had disappeared from many of the early mock drafts and return to the Fraport Skyliners for another season of grooming to improve his chances of becoming a first round pick in 2019. It looks like Bonga will go in the second round this year and that is something he can live with if that guaranteed contract is in the package. Keeping his name on the NBA draft ballot only becomes risky if he isn´t sure that he will be drafted. Chances are that he has received a promise from an NBA team.
The German who started his career with the Post SV Luetzel Baskets Koblenz junior team was already in Frankfurt in the 2016-2017 season playing for the Fraport Skyliners youth team while also getting experience with the Koblenz Regionalliga team. He made his BBL debut as a 16 year old and was the fifth youngest player to ever play a BBL game against Brose Bamberg. In the 2016-2017 season he was already high on many of the NBA mock drafts behind the Real Madrid wonder boy Luka Doncic and was seen as a top 10 first round pick. After a solid, but not explosive 2017 World Cup U19 in Cairo (Egypt) where he averaged 6.6ppg, 3.4rpg, 3.3apg, 1.6spg, his stock started to fall a bit in the mock drafts in the 2017-2018 season.
But Fraport Skyliners head coach Gordon Herbert stressed that NBA teams don´t always look at stats, but the overall potential of a player and that is what continued to keep Bonga in the NBA draft fold. In the last months, he continued to slip in some mock drafts, but also remained in others as his stock wasn´t high, but still abundant. One also knew that his stock had value because of the amount of scouts that continued to visit the Fraport arena in the spring. It wasn´t surprising when there were officials of 8 NBA teams watching Bonga and even guys like Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka and Boston Celtics director of player personal Austin Ainge were on hand as well as the front office of the Orlando Magic.
Bonga was present on the latest NBA mock draft Tankathon where he was listed as an early second round pick at #34 and was ahead of 2018 NCAA finalist with Michigan Moritz Wagner who is listed at #40. That is a little surprising since Wagner has garnered a lot of NBA interest in the last months thanks to his splendid play at March Madness and was seen by many as being the top German player drafted in 2018 and being a possible first round pick. Bonga flew over to the states recently for work outs. Apparently he is high on the wish list of the Orlando Magic. The Magic have two second round picks at 35 and 41 and a few guards that will become unrestricted free agents in 2019, so the club will need some guard help down the road. His former Fraport Skyliner teammate Jordan Sibert was with the Orlando Magic a few years back and knows the organization well and feels like Orlando would be an ideal place for him. “I think he would be a good addition for them in their transition period. His versatility and length would give them a totally different look as he is so young and there is so much upside. He really wants to continue to develop his body and shot. He might be able to keep doing that this summer and be ready, but if not then another season in Europe would be good. It is hard to put a time table on that. He showed the last months against teams like FC Bayern Munich, Alba Berlin and us in practice each day that his composure and understanding of the game is very good. Once he figures out his game a bit better all will work in his favor”, warned ex Dayton(NCAA) standout Jordan Sibert.
Bonga seems like the ideal draft and stash player a trend which continues to be common place. The German stressed before the 2017-2018 season that he wanted to reach the NBA as quickly as possible, so on one hand staying another year in Europe wasn´t so much on his plan. Fraport Skyliners head coach Gordon Herbert would have liked to have seen the young German wonder boy remain another season with him, but at the same time understands how big his dream is of reaching the NBA is. “It is really tough to comment where he will land. He could land somewhere between 20-30, be a second round pick or not get drafted at all. I personally believe that he needs another year in Europe, but that decision is up to him and his agent. The NBA is about isolation basketball and playing in the G-league instead of staying in Europe may be the better way for him. I feel that he made great strides from last August until now. Klaus Perwas did the majority of the work in helping him develop further. He had a vision of wanting to get to the NBA and most important he put in the work. He had a bit of a set back when he inured his rib, but you have to give the kid credit as he took on adversary and got past it. He is a great kid and a great example for all young German basketball players. I wish him all the best”, stressed head coach Gordon Herbert. The speculation will continue to grow in the next nine days as well as the excitement in Frankfurt basketball country as to what the future fate of Bonga will have instore and another activity for some to pass the time during the long World Cup which will help some in getting by the basketball dog days of summer. If Bonga gets drafted he will be a huge step closer to the NBA while his German club Fraport Skyliners also will be all smiles as they will get a huge pay day which will help for building their new roster for the upcoming season.