The last months have been like a long and never ending sweet dream for 2018 Los Angeles Lakers second round draft pick Isaac Bonga as he has been experiencing what life is like being part of one of the worlds most known basketball organizations. The new G-league season started a few days ago and until it did Bonga was able to catch NBA games at the end of the Lakers bench and experience the amazing atmosphere of the Staples center. For most it must be unimaginable what it must be like having conversations on a daily basis with the current greatest player on earth Lebron James, the best point guard of all-time Magic Johnson and Mr triple double Rajon Rondo at the Lakers training facility not to mention learning added vital basketball skills from South Bay player development coach once known as Ron Artest and now known as World Metta World Peace and head coach Coby Karl. Only four years ago Karl played his last professional season in Ludwigsburg as Bonga was a raw talent In Koblenz, Germany and a year away from starting his flight to the NBA via Frankfurt. Sometimes it is very interesting how basketball paths once so far away come together in only a few years. In the NBA and G-League world there isn´t much time to dream and get caught up and be distracted by all the legends walking around, but just focus on the game. That is something that Bonga has surprisingly done well despite the tender age of only 18 years. He had a non spectacular Summer league playing 7 games averaging 2.1ppg, 1.0rpg. His lack of minutes didn´t discourage him as he continued to work hard in the summer keeping the work ethic that he had in Frankfurt. He had his moments in the pre-season dropping 12 points, hauling down 9 boards and dishing out 5 assists against the Golden State Warriors. It was no surprise when he was sent to the Lakers G-League affiliate South Bay Lakers for grooming.
In the last few days in Las Vegas, nothing was out of the ordinary except for in Paris where people were going crazy after their Les Bleues reached the 2018 World Cup, but in the city where gambling is a way of life all was normal as the city remained a sizzling hot stove in the desert with the slot machines in full swing being operated mostly by tourists, the hotel pools packed with guests looking for a major cool down and in the Thomas & Mack center, fans witnessed nonending basketball action with 15 games being played and packed action as many of the NBA future stars were at work and didn´t disappoint anyone. As usual Fraport Skyliners past and maybe present as some are still hoping that Philip Scrubb and Tai Webster might return back to Frankfurt as the Skyliners budget was suddenly heightened with the money from the Bonga Lakers signing, but latest reports have speculated that this won´t be the case, but dreaming to keep that Skyliners chemistry is always possible. Also other Germans were in action like Moritz Wagner while ex Artland Dragon big man Isaiah Hartenstein sat out the 104-90 win by the Houston Rockets over the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday due to an injury in his right hand, but it was nothing serious.
While all of the football world had an off day on Sunday from the World Cup and were already making early predictions who will be crowned 2018 champion and if England can go all the way and win again after beating Germany in 1966 and wondering if they will continue their sudden surprising penalty kick mastery if needed, but in Las Vegas, there was no day off as the 2018 NBA Summer League continued with day three. 10 teams played including three Fraport Skyliners as well as Germans Moritz Wagner and Isaiah Hartenstein. Even if basketball is the number one priority for all the basketball players, one can´t neglect talking about the smoking heat in Las Vegas that is something that is always present in the dog days of summer. After his first post game interview after the 96-79 win against the Philadelphia 76ers, Isaac Bonga who has a pretty good English for an 18 year old German, but will get even better with time with more repetition was asked about how he communicates with German teammate Moritz Wagner. Bonga who is two years his junior commented with saying just a little German, because Wagner who has been playing in the states since 2015 with Michigan(NCAA) has already adapted that English basketball language which is only normal. So concerning the radical heat something Bonga isn´t used to since Germany is a lot cooler, he could have pranked his teammate if he knew how warm it would be on Sunday and replied “it´s going to be 49 degrees. A shocked Wagner might have replied with what 49 degrees? Is it going to snow now”? Bonga might have answered with not 49 degrees Celsius which the two German teammates might communicate with in German, but he would have said “49 degrees Fahrenheit. That is how extreme the weather Sunday was and with what players had to deal with, but when the main theme is basketball and the main goal is trying to impress NBA teams, being able to block out the intense heat is not an option, but mandatory. One player who is living his own basketball dream in Germany and knows something of heat after growing up in Florida and battling brutal humidy in the summer is Orlando Parker. He went from the Regionaliga with Baskets Vilsbiburg to the German Pro A in three seasons and has become a solid Pro A player with PS Karlsruhe. He remembers his first encounter against Bonga in 2016 as he watched the German score 6 points in his Pro B debut helping the Fraport Skyliners Juniors to a tough 61-56 grind out win on the road. “When I played against him I knew nothing about him besides his size and potential. But I definitely could see a player who has the skills and versatility to be good player at the next level. He impacted the game with his size and ability to handle the ball, which was amazing to watch for someone so young. If the Lakers work with him and believe in his potential the way Frankfurt believed. Then the sky is the limit for the kid. I wish him the best”, warned PS Karlsruhe forward Orlando Parker.
With the Utah and Sacramento NBA Summer Leagues history, teams and players now have traded the mountains of Salt Lake City and the old town of Sacramento while not on the court for the Thomas & Mack center and glitz of the always happening and wide awake Las Vegas. On Friday the 2018 easyCredit BBL scoring sniper Philip Scrubb had his first action in 2018 with the Washington Wizards after having made his debut back in 2015 in Orlando with the Memphis Grizzlies where he played 5 games averaging 2.2ppg, 2.8rpg, 1.6apg, FGP: 20.0% and in Las Vegas with the Toronto Raptors where he played 4 games averaging 5.0ppg, 3.0rpg, 1.0apg. The ex Carleton stand out who won 7 titles there and won the 2016 Fiba Europe Cup with the Fraport Skyliners came from the bench as the Washington Wizards went mostly with their starters who averaged 28 minutes in the 72-59 loss against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Some of the more known players this summer for Washington are guys like Aaron Harrison, and Thomas Bryant. Scrubb logged 13 minutes and apparently isn´t quite used to the rims in the Thomas & Mack center still searching for the feel and touch as he went 0/4 from the field and 0/3 from outside as his usually very feared three pointer is still looking to drop. He also hauled down four rebounds and coughed up the ball three times. Scrubb next plays on Sunday against the San Antonio Spurs.
Where the private thoughts of Isaac Bonga were in the last days concerning his future with the Los Angeles Lakers must have been very intense, because if he hasn’t noticed yet that he is living the ultimate Cinderella basketball story then at least his famiy and closest friends and agency Wasserman must have reminded him just how lucky he was. Working out for the Los Angeles Lakers and getting advice from the legend and possibily one of the best point guards to ever play Magic Johnson would get any basketball player on earth jealous, but finding out he could be practicing with the best player on earth and maybe being NBA teammates in the future with Lebron James and learning from Mr triple double Rajon Rondo is something he never would have imagined only a little bit of a month ago. There he was horsing around and having fun with his teammates of the Fraport Skyliners like Quantez Robertson and Mike Morrsion and posing with fans at the official Fraport Skyliners farewell party. In only a short time he has gone from boy to seemingly man as now his ultimate basketball experience is starting with the Los Angeles Lakers. This reality was confirmed yesterday as all this was not a dream as the German 18 year old wonder boy was given a three year deal according to numerous media reports.
It is no surprise that one has seen easyCredit BBL teams feature players at the NBA Summer League over the years. In 2014, the Fraport Skyliners had current FC Bayern Munich forward Danilo Barthel suit up for the Miami Hear and he held his own being teammates with NBA players like 2014 NCAA champion Shabaaz Napier with Uconn and Justin Hamilton. However it is rare when a easyCredit BBL team is able to showcase more than one as this summer the Fraport Skyliners will be able to observe three players displaying their abilities with Tai Webster Philip Scrubb and Isaac Bonga.
Ex Carleton sniper and all around great player Philip Scrubb helped Canada at the 2019 world cup qualifying games last weejned with wins against the Dominican Republic where he contributed six points and four assists in 22 minutes and stroked home 14 points in 17 minutes in a crushing 30 point victory against the Virgin Islands. Scrubb will suit up for the Washington Wizards in Las Vegas this weekend and will be teammates with some well known players like Thomas Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, Aaron Harrison of the Dallas Mavericks and Devin Robinson of the Washington Wizards. He also will be teammates with Phil Goss who is one of those players that has had a solid career in Europe and looking to turn some heads of the many NBA Gm’s on hand. Sam Cassell Jr will also be on the roster a guy who stands out just with his well known name. Isaac Bonga is slated to play for the Los Angeles Lakers with the official announcement still not having been made.
Recently Isaac Bonga was horsing around with his teammates Quantez Robertson, Mike Morrison and Niklas Kiel during fan photo sessions at the Fraport Skyliners farewell party only a few days after losing a tough 5 game series against FC Bayern Munich. A month later the 2018 NBA Draft was held in the 19,000 arena Barclays center in Brooklyn, New York only a 5 minute drive away from New York city and he would have had a few more camera´s to deal with than what he had experienced in the Fraport arena as some fans were possibly getting their last photos with the future NBA player. Not only were there many more fans in the huge state of the art arena than Bonga would have had ever seen before in his life, but also guys like 2018 Euroleague champion Luka Doncic or future NBA stars like Deandre Ayton, Marvin Bagley or Trae Young that were strutting around and getting a feel for their own NBA swagger. These are all things that he will have to deal with down the road. In the last two seasons, Isaac Bonga who´s biggest role model is Greek phenom Giannis Antetokounmpo had been present in the various NBA Mock drafts, but fallen in the last season, but his presence was still there even if it wasn´t as great as the season before. Some had speculated that he might drop out and wait another year to polish his skills a bit more in Germany with the Fraport Skyliners in the competitive easyCredit BBL, but instead he stayed in with the likely guarantee from a team that they would select him. Perhaps he also kept his coach Gordon Herbert´s wise words of “teams look at a player´s potential before his stats” in the back of his mind after contemplating if his world championships performance last summer of 6.6ppg, 3.4rpg, 3.3apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 41.5%, 3PT: 8.3%, FT: 69.2% might scare off NBA teams, but really he was never off team´s radars. At the end of his second season there were at times as many as 8 officials from different NBA teams watching him live in Germany. The gamble to forgo another season in Europe and enter now instead of 2019 paid off as the huge German talent was the youngest player in the 2018 NBA draft and wasdrafted by the Philadelphia 76ers in the second round at #39 and then handed to the Los Angeles Lakers joining fellow German Moritz Wagner who was drafted also by the Lakers in the first round at #25. A few months ago Los Angeles Lakers GM Rob Pelinka was in Frankfurt observing Bonga and must have been convinced of his abilities, but still needed that second opinion and I was glad to give my two cents of praise about the German. All of basketball Germany is thrilled about Bonga being drafted. ““I am delighted to see Isaac drafted. He is an excellent competitor and has worked diligently to achieve this latest success. This is also a huge credit to Frankfurt Basketball and the German National teams. Isaac is a versatile player two-way player with great size and length for his position. The most impressive aspect for me when it comes to Isaac is that he has added to his game every year and continues to do so”, stressed ex Nordlingen head coach Danny Nelson.
Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Isaac Bonga after the NBBL playoff lost against IBAM in 2017
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.
A little more than two months ago, the Fraport Skyliners Juniors showed another great performance on the road taking apart the Bayer Giants Leverkusen for the second straight year as German wunder kid Isaac Bonga led the charge with 26 points last season and 19 points this season. Like so often this season, the Bayer Giants Leverkusen were unable to give a very good performance for 40 minutes as they have proven this season to have been underachieving despite having a very solid guard rotation of Alexander Blessig and Marvin Heckel and two potent import inside players with Bruce Beckford and Donovan Jack and all rounder CJ Oldham. The biggest problem has been their inability to defend at a high rate on a consistent level as they allow 80 points per game while scoring 78 per game. The club reacted at the start of 2018 bringing in talented 26 year old 196cm small forward Ron Mvouika from France who after a roller coaster ride from Sheridan JC (JUCO) and Missouri St. (NCAA), he finally landed with St Johns in his senior season 2015-2016 where he captained the team for legendary 1992 Dream team player and now coach Chris Mullin who treated him like a pro from day one. Leverkusen landed a coup with Mvouika as he prompt led the team on a two game winning streak. They did lose last weekend to Iserlohn as their lackluster defense reared it´s ugly head again on the court losing 95-84. However Mvouika who compares his game to Paul George has been more than just a fresh breath of air, but been a lot more as he has taken the Pro B by storm and proven to be a very versatile player that can do it all on the court as through three games he was averaging 19,0ppg, 5,0rpg, 4,0apg, 1,3 and is shooting 47,1% from outside. He has never had it easy in his career, but he has always believed in his abilities and his road up the basketball ladder continues now with Leverkusen. “I am a very confident person because I know the work I put in every day. Basketball is not a sport to me, it’s my life so me not finding stability since coming out of college never really made me doubt myself or anything else. I was just working very hard every day, waiting on the right opportunity to present itself, an opportunity where I could express myself and show the world what I can do and Bayer was the perfect marriage. I don’t feel or add any pressure, if anything, I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time so now its time to show all the work that I was putting behind close doors”, warned Ron Mvoiuka.
Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Ron Mvouika of the Bayer Giants Leverkusen after dropping 11 points in the 81-65 loss to Frankfurt
The French man came with the Bayer Giants Leverkusen to Frankfurt and was looking to start a new winning streak while the Fraport Skyliners Juniors were looking for their second victory in a row in 2018 and they overcome a quick start by the Bayer Giants Leverkusen and controlled the game from the second quarter until the 40 minutes had eclipsed playing consistent offense and playing with passion on the defensive end winning 81-65.
It is that time of the year again where the biggest basketball talents meet and show their abilities on the court in Trevisio, Italy at the 2017 Adidas Eurocamp. Germany is in good company as it will be represented by guys like Karim Jallow of FC Bayern Munich, Louis Olinde of the Brose Baskets Bamberg and Kosja Mushidi of Mega Leks, but also from two other huge talents with Isaac Bonga and Richard Freudenberg from the Fraport Skyliners will also be present. At the 3 day camp from June 9-11, the young hopeful talents will play in front of current and former coaches and players like Thon Maker of the Milwaukee Bucks) and Russian legend Andrei Kirilenko. The players will be able to showcase their skills in drills as well as compete against each other in games. Well known players that played at the Adidas Eurocamp in the past have been 93 first and second round draft picks, including NBA standouts Serge Ibaka (208-C/F-89) (Toronto Raptors), Danilo Gallinari (208-SF-88) (Denver Nuggets), Goran Dragic (190-PG-86) (Miami HEAT), Brandon Ingram (206-SF-97, college: Duke) (Los Angeles Lakers), Jaylen Brown (201-F-96, college: California) (Boston Celtics), Dragan Bender (213-PF-97) (Phoenix Suns) and Thon Maker (216-C/F-97, college: High School) (Milwaukee Bucks). Forty-three former EUROCAMP participants currently hold NBA contracts and 64 currently play in EuroLeague Basketball.
Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Isaac Bonga after a Fraport Skyliners win in Rhondorf in 2016
Isaac Bonga comes into the camp as one of the biggest talents in Europe at the moment from the year 1999 and at only 17 years of age and 205cm still has a huge upside in his development and could use this camp as another opportunity to raise his NBA draft stock for 2018 as he is already for many experts seen as a top 10 draft pick.