Two days until the draft, and….
Lucas Nogueira is ready to learn his NBA future. At last. Without further delay.
The moment has been two years and, as of Thursday night, three drafts in coming. He was in the 2011 field, then withdrew just before the deadline. He stayed out last year. Now, after several calendars worth of scrutiny from front offices, Nogueira will hear his name called in the first round, maybe as high the teens, as the selections unfold at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
“He feels like in the past two years he needed to grow in several different areas,” Nogueira’s agent, Aylton Tesch, said. “His maturity, his knowledge for the game. And after the season that he had, he feels like he has accomplished some of it and he feels ready mentally to take the next step.”
The concern is whether the power forward-center from Brazil has grown enough, which is why Nogueira isn’t a lock for at least the middle of the first round as a rim protector who runs the floor, has quick reflexes combined with extensive international experience. All this time later, teams still have questions about his focus and whether Nogueira is capable of actually being a difference maker or will continue to be adrift in inconsistency.
“He had heard that before, like two years ago,” Tesch said. “But ever since, he changed his attitude on and off the court. Things have changed.”
“His personality overall, about being more serious and more professional on the court,” Tesch said.
It’s not just the mental. Nogueira needs to get stronger at 220 pounds, and there may be language issues: the Brazil native does large portions of interviews in Portugese. He is asked if he is comfortable with English.
“No,” Nogueira said. “So so.”
He may use a translator as a rookie. On the other hand, if he comes to the NBA rather than spend another season in Spain in the second-best league in the world, at least Nogueira will be a rookie. Finally.