(Originally posted at VinteUm)
Just like Bruno Caboclo, it was disappointing how little playing time Lucas Nogueira got last season. He logged just 23 minutes with the Toronto Raptors and 80 minutes with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.
It’s also worth mentioning that Nogueira dealt with injuries in 2013-2014 and logged just 297 minutes with Estudiantes that season. He has barely played 1,000 minutes the last four seasons. Nogueira is by no means old but at 22, it’s a bit concerning how little playing time he’s seen since turning pro.
That said, he seems to have put all that free time to good use. Nogueira appeared stronger at summer league and presented a more polished skill-set – factors that were concerns regarding his transition to the NBA.
However, as much as physical and skills training is important, playing time is still the biggest factor for a prospect’s development and that’s why it was important to see Nogueira do well in his 118 minutes last week.
When he was drafted, Nogueira projected as a catch-and-finish big man on offense. But he surprised with how well he passed at summer league, especially considering he did it in several ways. Nogueira didn’t just assist cutters out of the low post but also proved able to pass facing the defense – out of the short roll and on high-lows.
According to RealGM, he assisted on 17.5% of Toronto’s scores when he was on the floor last week – an above average mark among centers. That said, Nogueira also averaged three turnovers per game, which isn’t to be ignored.
It should be mentioned, though, that he focused a lot more on gravitating towards the perimeter after screening than cutting to the front of the rim and making himself a target for lobs. And that is concerning. Nogueira’s newfound passing ability is great but shouldn’t come at the expense of having him as a scoring threat around the rim most of the time.
No one guarded Nogueira when he caught the ball outside the lane, so he tried a few standstill outside shots and hit one or two, but nothing to be taken seriously at this point. Which is also the case with his post-ups, as he lacks strength to back opponents down.
It’s worth considering that Nogueira logged most of his minutes upfront with Ronald Roberts, who didn’t stretch all the way to the three-point line and crowded the interior, but it was nonetheless concerning how little diving to the front of the rim he did, especially because he played with Delon Wright – one of the more polished point guards at summer league. And when he did cut down the lane, Nogueira also struggled to catch the ball in traffic.
He wasn’t perfect defending pick-and-rolls, as he is not suited to guard smaller players on switches and moved sideways flat-footed instead of getting on his stance. But Nogueira was pretty good defending the front of the rim, as expected due to his length and agility to get off the ground.
He blocked 13 shots in five games and contested 6.8 two-point shots per game – the third highest mark at summer league, according to NBA.com/stats/. His long arms also helped deflect a lot of passes. Toronto allowed just 77.8 points per 100 possessions with Nogueira on the floor – an exceptional mark.
Part of why he was such an impact defender was his production on the glass. Nogueira doesn’t box out with great consistency and struggles pushing people from below the rim but his leaping ability and long arms allow him to reach the ball at a high point. He collected 27.4% of opponnents’ misses – the 11th highest defensive rebounding rate at summer league. Those same strengths translated on the other end, where Nogueira collected 14% of Toronto’s misses.
Editor’s Note: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at Upside & Motor, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara