In a shocking NBA Draft that kept the audience on the edge of their seats even from the first overall pick, the Atlanta Hawks made some interesting moves including bringing in a couple of highly sought after international players.
The short: The Hawks have added center Lucas Noguiera, point guard Dennis Schroder, shooting guard/small forward James Cunningham and center Mike Muscala, as well as a couple of future conditional second round picks.
Nogueira has been a hot name on the international market for the past few years, finally deciding to enter the NBA Draft at the age of 20. He has displayed a lot of upside, especially defensively, due to his large 7-ft frame. He has played in the Spanish ACB league and drawn a lot of comparisons to Serge Ibaka, as Kevin Pelton has noted in his strictly statistical look at this year’s prospects.
Pelton had Nogueira ranked 6th among all NBA prospects.
Nogueira was ranked 6th among those measured in this year pool in terms of projections of his rookie season, based on stats that player put up in college or whatever other league they were in this past year. He shot a Tyson Chandler-like 66.1%, albeit in the Spanish ACB league, this past season in 34 games with Asefa Estudiantes de Madrid, as well as blocking 3 shots per 36 minutes in the same frame.
Here are some draft day quotes by Nogueira via David Vertsberger of HawksHoops through his translating agent.
â€œ[Horford's] a very, very good player and a player well known around the world. Itâ€™s going to be a great experience and (Nogueira) has a lot to learn from him. [...] The league in Spain is like the second-best league in the world, and (Nogueira) was able to do well there. (Nogueira) will do as much as he can to make an impact right away and help his team.â€
Of Nogueira, GM Danny Ferry had to say via the AJC:
â€œLucas has both a tremendous level of talent and charisma as well. He can do things athletically with his length, protecting around the rim and finishing around the rim. He has a good understanding of the game. A good basketball player. Heâ€™s a good teammate.â€
With the 17th pick in the draft, the Hawks surprised many, including me, by picking a relatively unknown German point guard in 19-year old Dennis Schroeder.
SchroederÂ is a 6’2â€ speed demon with the ball in his hands, equipped with a long wingspan and superb athletic ability. Like Tony Parker and Jeff Teague, his main calling card is getting to the rim and running a pick-and-roll offense if needed.
Per DraftExpress.com, SchroederÂ was one of the highest ranking catch-and-shoot jump-shooters in the Euroleague. The only thing keeping this dynamic player back, aside from is his small 165 lb frame, is his lack of age and experience.
Here are quotes by Dennis Schroeder via Skype at the Philips Arena draft night party via Robby Kalland of Peachtree Hoops
“I didn’t expect [the Hawks to draft me] because I didn’t do a work out [with the Hawks] so I didn’t expect it, but I’m very glad I was taken because I think the game [in Atlanta] fits me very well. [...] My strength is to play defense…and try to bring everybody together…and win some games. [...] I watch the NBA every night. So, I know the NBA pretty good and my favorite players are Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul. [...] I told my family that I want to play in NBA this year because I played very good at HoopSummit and I promised my dad that I want to play in the NBA because that’s the next step.”
GM Danny Ferry says via the AJC:
â€œDennis is tenacious, athletic, a good basketball player, highly competitive kid. I think he can have a very bright future in the NBA with hard work and developing and the opportunity. He can shoot the basketball at a good level. He can get in the lane and make plays for people.â€
The Hawks, Mavericks and Celtics completed a three-way trade, albeit as two separate trades, that brought Noguiera (16th overall pick), the 44th overall pick and Jared Cunningham to Atlanta. Cunningham was drafted in last season’s draft. HeÂ only played in eight games last season as a low first-round pick and may not be anything more than a backup at the shooting guard position, which the Hawks already boast with Lou Williams and John Jenkins.Â In that same deal, Atlanta drafted Shane Larkin at #18 but merely as part of the framework of the trade with Dallas.
With the newly gained 44th overall pick, the Hawks selected Mike Muscala.
Muscala was a four-year player at Bucknell University and is the schoolâ€™s all-time leading scorer. Standing at about Â 7-feet tall, he recorded 2.3 blocks per game in his senior season. He left NCAA Division I Basketball as a top 25 player in terms of Win Shares, since the stat has been recorded at that level in 1997-98, and in the top 15 of WS/40. Muscala was a steady and efficient double-double guy in the Patriot League and could turn into a nice new piece to bolster the Hawks’ bench in the years ahead.
GM Danny Ferry says via the AJC:
â€œMike is a guy that weâ€™ve come to like throughout the year. He has areas that he still needs to grow and develop, especially physically. â€¦ He is an excellent passer. He can rebound. He can shoot it. He plays very hard”
Nogueira was joined in the draft by fellow Brazilian Raul “Raulzinho” Neto, who played alongside the likes of Leandro Barbosa, Anderson VarejÃ£o, NenÃª, and Tiago Splitter on the Brazilian national team at the 2012 Olympics. The Hawks selected NetoÂ with the 47th overall pick but his rights were traded just after the draft to the Utah Jazz. James Ennis of Long Beach State was also selected by Atlanta three picks later at #50, but he was shipped away to the Miami Heat.
The early reports say that both Schroder and Nogueira have a ways to go before they are NBA ready, which is an interesting diagnosis for a team with so few players locked in for the 2013-14 season.
Check out what ESPN’s Chad Ford had to say:
â€œThe Mavs sent the No. 16 pick and guard Jared Cunningham to the Hawks for the Nos. 18 and 44 picks. The Hawks have coveted Nogueira for a while. Think of him as a poor man’s Nerlens Noel. He is a big-time shot blocker and owns a impressive 7-foot-6 wingspan. He’s a project, but down the road Nogueira could be a very good rim protector.”
Chad Ford and Jay Bilas answered some questions about the draft class and had a few things to say about Nogueira and Schroeder:
WillÂ Lucas NogueiraÂ have a better NBA career thanÂ Rudy Gobert?
Ford:Â Yes. Both players are incredibly long — Gobert has a 7-foot-9 wingspan, Nogueira a 7-6 wingspan — and will be great rim protectors. Both players need to add strength and polish their offensive games. The difference, to me, is how active Nogueira is, whereas Gobert is a relatively passive player. Nogueira is certainly inconsistent and can be all over the place, but when he dials it in, he’s a very disruptive player. Gobert also has that potential, but I don’t see it show up as often. Both players should be solid shot-blockers at the next level if they continue to hone their games and add strength, but I’d give the edge to Nogueira.
Bilas:Â Yes. It is really hard to tell because both are young and unproven. Gobert is not a great athlete and has a long way to go in his development, but he does have a crazy-long wingspan that is almost cartoonish. However, Gobert is not as prepared as Noguiera right now and is not as physically strong. Noguiera is a better athlete, rebounder and shot-blocker and has a better feel for the game. You have to project a few years forward with both, but I think it is more likely that Noguiera will be the better player in five years.â€œ
Bilas also said about Dennis:
“Schroeder is the German Rajon Rondo. He’s a long, athletic point guard who uses speed and athleticism to be disruptive on both ends of the floor. He’s still pretty raw, but there’s a ton of upside. The Hawks went very young in this draft. Not sure either guy will be able to play for a while.â€
Kevin Pelton did a statistical study of the draft candidates in this class and ranked the Hawks 4th in terms of projected player WARP over expected WARP for the draft position. He reported:
“The Hawks also successfully went overseas. While guardÂ Dennis SchroederÂ does not have a projection, centerÂ Lucas NogueiraÂ (2.4) has terrific potential for the 16th pick based on his performance in the ACB. Second-round pickÂ Mike Muscala(1.5) also rated well.”
The key take away will be the selection of two projectable, but raw foreign players. Are the Hawks looking down the road, willing to sacrifice immediate success for long-term success? Or do both of these players possess the ability to step in and contribute from the jump?
Regardless of those answers, even bigger moves may be made come July 1st.
Stay tuned Hawks fans.
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