Last year’s #17 overall NBA draft pick, Lucas Nogueira, was named the top defender of the Spanish ACB league — the top basketball league in Spain.
The Hawks have been tracking his development oversees after securing his rights last summer and despite a nasty injuries, have to be excited at what they see.
Even with a healthy Al Horford, the Hawks have decided on a going with a small team to keep up with the times. Pero Antic is listed as 6’11 and Horford at 6’10. Excluding Gustavo Ayón who figures to not be in the Hawks plan going forward, the rest of the members of the opening day roster are 6’8 or under. Some added size may be the goal of the off-season.
Last June, the Hawks made a draft day trade for Lucas Nogueira, a Brazilian with a whole lot of measurables and potential, but also question marks. After performing in the NBA Summer League, he and Atlanta decided on allowing him to take another season in the Spanish ACB league to hone his skills. As a raw prospect in a competitive European League, the goal was to see growth from the 21-year-old, and this award is a sign of success.
Nogueira released a translated statement through the Hawks:
“I am very happy with this award. Did not expect, so it’s even more special. I have to share this achievement with my teammates, coaching staff and fans, who have always helped me, supported me and encouraged me. I was very pleased with my 2013 season, matured and grown a lot as a player. This trophy comes at an important moment. I returned to the court a few weeks ago after a few months out because of the bruises on her knees, and this further strengthens me.”
The news is very interesting due to the amount of playing time he missed dealing with a knee injury that developed just 6 games into the season. As a result he has only played in 10 total games but apparently his defensive impact was great in those games.
At 7’0” and 225 lbs with a 7’6” wingspan and a 9’6” standing reach, according to DraftExpress’s profile last year, he has all the measurements of a long disruptive defensive force. Another stint in the Summer League this upcoming season will most likely determine if he begins the 2014-15 season with the big club or not. Either way, the Hawks have to be pleased with this kid’s future prospects.