The Atlanta Hawks have selected Brazilian big man Lucas Nogueira with the No. 16 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. Nogueira is big, athletic center who could emerge as a rim protector, but will need to put in a lot of work on the offensive end to reach his full potential.
Nogueira has been bandied about as a potential NBA draft pick for some time, but this was close to the higher end of the spectrum for where he might be selected. He was projected by at least one mock to go to the Hawks with the No. 17 pick. But Atlanta traded up to grab the No. 16 pick from the Dallas Mavericks, who had already traded for that pick from the Boston Celtics. It's not quite clear why they felt the need to trade up considering they had the pick directly after this one as well as the No. 18 pick, but clearly they were high on several players.
Nogueira briefly flirted with entering the NBA Draft as an 18-year-old prospect in 2011, but he withdrew and instead spent the past two years working on improving his game overseas. He is a rare athlete for his size, but at 6'11, 215 pounds he still needs to add strength to his frame.
Nogueira has the potential to become an impact defender and solid rebounder in the NBA. He displayed those strengths during his time in the Spanish ACB League, but his underdeveloped offensive game could make him a candidate to stash overseas for a year. He is still under contract with Estudiantes, his Spanish ACB League team, until 2014, and his buyout for this year is $2 million dollars.
So, basically, don't expect to see Nogueira in Atlanta next year, or even for a few years. With Josh Smith likely headed out, the team is trying to land a big free agent, and having players whose salaries can be stashed overseas is particularly helpful in that department. New coach Mike Budenholzer just did pretty spectacular work with a Brazilian center on the San Antonio Spurs with Tiago Splitter.