A remarkable thing for the Ukrainian sports happened this summer: two Ukrainian basketball players got drafted by NBA teams. The Los Angeles Lakers may sign 21-year-old Svyatoslav Mykhailyuk, while Youssuf Sanon is on his way to the Washington Wizards after another season with Slovenia’s Olympia. Apart from them, the LA Clippers and the Bulls are still thinking about signing Bogdan Blyzhyuk and Olexandr Kobets respectively. Let us hope that Issuf will show something to be proud of – there has got to be a reason why he calls himself “Lebron on Olympia”,- as well as that Blyzhyuk and Kobets will play well. Let us now look at our prospect in Los Angeles.
“My dream came true today, it is an honor for me to join the Lakers.”
“It was one of the places I wanted to get to the most. This is a team with long history and enormous ambitions. I expect a good season and a lot of positive emotions”, - Mykhailyuk said after the draft.
Taking into account the arrival of Lebron James, the team’s chances to make the playoffs have risen by a lot, and this is why it is very important for Svyatoslav to get into the rotation from the very start. He shouldn’t expect to be given a lot of minutes, but it is perfectly possible to become a permanent member of the team’s game ballot. Moreover, Mykhailyuk is playing great basketball in the NBA Summer League and surprising many of his teammates and the coaching staff.
Just after a few of the first practices Miles Simon, the Lakers assistant coach said the Ukrainian was a knockout three-point shooter.
“Svyatoslav Mykhailyuk had a great game. He is a very good shooter.”
“He is pretty good at handling the ball. His body is also a positive factor. He is going to have to learn a lot of new terms as he transitions into the NBA from college basketball. Everybody seems confident about his long-distance shot, but Mykhailyuk is capable of so much more”, - Simon said when asked about his impression of the Ukrainian after the latter’s first few days in Los Angeles.
Then the Summer League began, and it all started. 15 points in the game against the Kings and 12 points against Miami. After a modest 7 points in the game against the Warriors, Mykhailyuk erupted in the game against Philadelphia, where he scored 17 points. The Lakers guard Josh Hart was surprised by Svyat’s perseverance after the game.
”He is fearless. That is perhaps the most important in him.”
“He is very confident when he plays, you can see it. Some of the shots he made in the game against Philadelphia were just crazy. When you are that confident about your shot, you are going to do great”.
Just a few hours ago another game day took place in the NBA Summer League. The Lakers played the Chicago Bulls, and two Ukrainians were listed for the game – Mykhailyuk for the Lakers and Kobets for Chicago. The 22-year-old Kobets finally played his first minute in the NBA, while Mykhailyuk played 22 minutes. In that time, he scored 15 points, recorded two assists and two rebounds. Again, Svyatoslav’s confidence was his trademark.
“This guy is crazy – in a positive sense, in a good sense.”
“Sometimes you look at his wild emotions on the floor, while he is such a funny, quiet guy. His confidence is incredible/ It is fun to play with him. He puts up a fight when rebounding the ball, despite his relatively modest size. He is a very exciting player”,- another Lakers rookie Moritz Wagner said of Svyatoslav.
Moritz and Svyat are in a similar situation. The Lakers head coach Luke Walton made it clear that a place on the court will only be given to someone who adapts to professional basketball quickly, who plays for his team and works hard at practices. Svyatoslav, at least according to himself, should find it difficult to adapt to the league. The perseverence and hard work that the Ukrainian is showing suggests he could turn out to be a great addition for the Los Angeles team.