The Atlanta Hawks had two of the most promising rookies at NBA Summer League this year. Dennis Schroeder turned a lot of heads with his potential as a young point guard with a lot of upside in this league as he grows behind Jeff Teague. Big man Lucas Nogueira also had a lot of people buzzing about his performance in Las Vegas.
In five games with the Hawks in Vegas, Nogueira averaged 6.4 points, six rebounds, 1.2 steals and a fantastic 2.4 blocks in just 21.8 minutes per game. He also shot 62.5 percent from the floor in Vegas, though his 28.6 percent free-throw percentage was a bit disconcerting. However, it was his defensive potential that left a lot of people talking about what he could do as a rookie in the 2013-2014 season.
However, it doesn’t seem like Nogueira’s rookie NBA season is going to end up being this year. According to Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Nogueira is likely going to spend the next season in Spain working on his game and on getting stronger for when he does get to the NBA.
Nogueira heading to Spain for next season is a result of the Hawks signing Gustavo Ayon earlier in the week. Though Nogueira is young, unproven and still has a lot of development left to go in his game and his body, it feels like a waste sending him back to Spain.
The first reason that Nogueira not being in the NBA isn’t great for Atlanta is the appeal he has with the fans. From the moment he was drafted and had to set his draft-hat on top of his sprawling afro instead of on his head, Hawks fans and basketball fans found a spot in their hearts for Nogueira. It’s a shame that we won’t get to see him play and that the fans won’t have someone to get behind.
In terms of Nogueira’s game, though, going back to Spain isn’t going to give him all of the development that he needs. The competition in Spain is solid, but it won’t give Nogueira the chance to see the strength that NBA big men play with and see the areas where he needs to work on his game.
It’s understandable why the Hawks would want to stash Nogueira and let him develop more, but it’s also a move that won’t allow him to develop as well as he could playing in the NBA. Above all else, though, it’s a shame we won’t get to see the smiling big man with the bouncing ‘fro in Atlanta this season.