LAS VEGAS – For Hawks rookies Dennis Schroder and Lucas Nogueira, speaking different languages hasn’t hurt their connection on the court.
Schroder, the team’s German point guard and Nogueira, the big man out of Brazil, connected several times on alley-oops in the team’s five games, giving Hawks fans a glimpse of what could become an exciting pairing at Philips Arena.
“We had a very, very good connection,” Schroder said. “He runs the pick-and-roll very well, so every time he looks at me I know he’s ready for the pass. That’s great for me having a guy like him I can throw it to.”
That connection may have to wait, however. Schroder is signed with the Hawks and will likely see time backing up Jeff Teague this season. Nogueira’s future, though, isn’t as certain. Nogueira, the No. 16 pick who famously — and briefly — donned a Celtics cap on his afro before being traded to the Hawks on Draft night, was a last-minute addition to the Summer League squad and management was using the time here to get a feel for their 7-foot (7-foot-3 with the afro?) big man.
“It was a really good learning experience for both of them,” said Hawks assistant Quin Snyder, who ran the team in Las Vegas. “I thought Lucas got better as the week went on and Dennis had a few really good challenges that he handled really well.”
Schroder showed a patience and ability to find the open man on offense, but shined defensively, where he was constantly hounding opposing point guards.
“I think being a point guard in Summer League is harder than any other position because there’s so much you have to control,” Snyder said. “He did a really good job defensively this week. He works incredibly hard on defense and he’s so long, so he’s tough to play against.”
Schroder finished his run averaging 10.8 points and 5.6 assists (against 3.4 TOs) while struggling a bit with his shot (34 percent overall, 7-for-24 on 3s). Schroder improved with each game, though, and seemed more comfortable offensively as the week progressed. Still, all the 19-year-old German wanted to talk about was his defense.
“The first thing I do is try to play good defense,” said Schroder, who led the Hawks with eight steals in five games. “Hopefully my teammates see that and play hard defense, too.”
Nogueira said he took notice of Schroder’s defense, and had his best game defensively Friday, bringing energy and tallying five of his 12 blocks in the Hawks’ finale.
“I like my progress this week,” said Nogueira, who says he plans to be in Atlanta by August and is preparing as if he’ll be with the team in the fall even though management may choose to keep him overseas. “I started slow, but I’ll go home happy with my progress.”
Nogueira admitted he didn’t know Schroder’s game before the Hawks took him with the No. 17 pick, but said he watched “all his YouTube movies” to better prepare for Summer League.
“He’s a very good guard, makes great passes and has great vision, so that’s good for me,” Nogueira said with a laugh.
And it could be a good connection – eventually – for the Hawks.