It was always a possibility that the player the Hawks selected with the 16th overall pick in this year’s draft, Lucas Nogueira, would spend a season developing overseas, and in fact, he told us as much back in June at adidas Eurocamp.
Given his strong showing at Summer League in Las Vegas, however, along with the fact that the Hawks were reportedly moving closer on negotiating a buyout of the contract he has with a Spanish team for next season, there seemed to be a possibility that Nogueira might have ended up playing his rookie season in the states.
After Atlanta loaded up its roster with frontcourt players in free agency, the decision of where Nogueira would spend next season became a little bit easier to make, and one the team finalized on Monday.
Hawks’ first-round draft pick Lucas Nogueira will remain in Spain next season to continue his development. The native of Brazil will play another year with Asefa Estudiantes Madrid while the Hawks maintain his rights.
“We are very encouraged by what we’ve seen from Lucas this summer,” general manager Danny Ferry told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Monday. “Going back to Estudiantes will allow him to continue develop while also playing meaningful minutes against very good competition. We will closely monitor his progress as he works towards his goals as a basketball player.”
Nogueira is an energetic big man who can dramatically impact his team’s chances on the defensive end of the floor, but it’s true that his talent is raw and that he (like most young players) will benefit from the additional minutes he’ll get playing somewhere outside the NBA.
The Hawks added Elton Brand, Paul Millsap, Pero Antic and Gustavo Ayon this summer, and Al Horford remains in place on the roster, as well. That’s a crowded rotation for Nogueira to attempt to crack, so the choice to have him continue to develop overseas makes complete sense.