Lucas Nogueira: The Next Marcus Camby?
Lucas “Bebe” Nogueira is looking more and more like a first round draft pick in the 2013 NBA Draft and after a solid couple of days in front of representatives from all 30 NBA teams at the 2013 adidas Eurocamp in Treviso, Italy, Nogueira is feeling good about where he stands.
Two years ago, Nogueira tested his NBA draft status and opted to return to the international game for more developing. Now, after a solid season in Spain’s ACB League, Nogueira feels like he is ready for the next level.
With the help of his agent, Aylton Tesch as a translator, Nogueira talked with HOOPSWORLD in Portuguese about a wide range of topics, specifically what has changed in his game over the last two years.
“Me willing to be a winner,” Nogueira said. “I think that was key to change the situation from two years ago until now.”
The most glaring part of Nogueira game is his slender 220-pound frame and whether he can take the pounding NBA big men must endure.
“I think so. I think the game of basketball, apart from the tactical and technical aspects of the game; I can improve in the physical area,” Nogueira said. “I think I need a full summer or a full season in the gym, taking it very seriously and doing things right in order to bulk up like any other player.”
Nogueira has gotten to know NBA star Dwight Howard, as they share the same agents. Nogueira understands he may have to face players of Howard’s size fairly soon, but says he’s played against bigger players and feels like his season in the ACB will help him adjust to the NBA’s size and physicality.
“You have to go step by step,” Nogueira said. “There might not be a Dwight Howard in the ACB, but the other players were very physical against me. I have other skills that have me allowed to play well in the ACB. I might be not physically ready, but I have other essential skills.”
Nogueira’s freakish athletic ability and his ability to challenge shots as a shot blocker is something he feels translates well to the next level, as he says he’s modeled his game after Knicks big man Marcus Camby, who came into the NBA at 223 pounds in 1996.
Nogueira’s camp has been very deliberate about Lucas, understanding that he needs to land in the right spot in order for him to grow into a productive NBA player.
“I think basketball is a game of trust, not only between the coach and myself but the team and myself,” Nogueira explained. “If I land on a team that has confidence in me, I think it would be a good first step in order to have a great career.”
Nogueira also understand there will be a steep learning curve that he has to overcome at the next level and seems open to whatever needs to happen next, which may include being drafted and remaining in Europe for another season.
“Staying in Europe for another season would be a good situation for me because here I’ve improved a lot as a player,” Nogueira said. “I learned a lot this season… but we all know that the NBA is the best league and there would be no better place to learn and improve, especially the physical aspect of the game, which is one of my biggest flaws right now. In the NBA, you work a lot on your body so it would be a good opportunity.”
The debate about whether Lucas is ready to play in the NBA will dominate the process over the next three weeks, but Nogueira says he trusts that the team that drafts him will understand what he can and cannot do.
“I think it’s not a question for me. I think the team that picks me has the knowledge to determine if I’m ready to play or not right now,” Nogueira said.
Another aspect of the NBA that Nogueira will have to get used to is the intense media scrutiny players have to endure.
“I am ready,” Nogueira said with a smile. “[The Spanish League] is not like the NBA, but this season I drew a lot of attention because I was a player that surprised everybody in the league, and that didn’t change me a bit and I’ve kept working and improving my game.”
Nogueira completed his workouts on Saturday and was headed home today, but said the experience in Treviso at adidas Eurocamp was good.
“It’s been a big experience for me,” Nogueira said. “This is a camp that always tries to gather the best players in Europe nowadays. It’s a camp that has been successful for long time and I’m happy to be here. I was happy about my performance yesterday, everything worked out well just as I had planned. The experience has been as good or even better as last year. It’s a camp with a lot of exposure for players and there are players of such a high level.”
The 2013 NBA Draft is in 18 days and based on how Nogueira’s week has gone, he seems more like a first-round draft pick than not and that’s a huge leap from two years ago.
Special thanks to Raúl Barrigón (@BarriHoopsHype), the managing editor of http://www.HoopsHype.com for a complete translation of Lucas Nogueira’s interview.