The Atlanta Hawks will be sending their first pick of this summer’s NBA Draft back to familiar surroundings. 7-foot Brazilian center Lucas Nogueira, who the Hawks acquired in a draft night trade from Dallas, will be suiting up for the team on which he has played since 2011, Asefa Estudiantes Madrid.
Danny Ferry, along with the rest of the Hawks brass, hope another year of seasoning in the 18-team Liga Endesa (ACB division) will pay off and make Nogueira a more polished, ready to play in the NBA right away player.
Nogueira will be looking to build on last season when he saw action in all of Estudiantes 34 games. While playing an average of 13 minutes a night (games are 40 minutes long), Nogueira put up decent numbers: 5.4 PPG, 3.4 REBS, 66 FG%, 66 FT%.
Lucas should have a shot at seeing his playing time increase this season, possibly even becoming the starting center for Estudiantes. German Gabriel, the team’s center last season, signed with a new team. Francisco Guerra, who only suited up eight times last season with Asefa Estudiantes, figures to be the only competition between Lucas Nogueira and a starting center position. Regardless, Nogueira’s minutes should increase significantly this coming season, which tips off on October 13 for Estudiantes.
Nogueira will be playing against some players that will be familiar to basketball fans in the States. Rudy Fernandez, who played four seasons in the NBA, returns to Liga Endesa to help Real Madrid attempt to defend their 2012-13 title. Robbie Hummel, who was a star at Purdue University, may return to the league this season after playing for Blusens last season. Also, Matt Gatens, a starter for the University of Iowa, is slated to return to UCAM Murcia.
Hawks fans will want to pay extra attention to Asefa Estudiantes’s matchups with Hummel’s Blusens Monbus Obradoiro CAB team as Atlanta’s 2nd round draft pick Mike Muscala will be a reserve center on that team this season. Like Nogueira, Muscala will be looking to show that he is NBA worthy by performing well in Liga Endesa.
Last season was not a successful one for Asefa Estudiantes. The team finished with a 15-19 record, which was good for a 12th place finish. The team, coached by Tuxus Vidoretta, has won three Spanish League titles, but has not returned to the championship since 2004.
Despite the club’s lack of recent success, they seem to be a fun loving group. Check out this version of the Harlem Shake, done by Estudiantes players and their supporters (supporters is Euro for fans, by the way).
Check back throughout this upcoming season for more updates on Lucas Nogueira and Asefa Estudianties.