The Atlanta Hawks didn’t necessarily pick up any immediate impact players in the 2013 NBA Draft, but general manager Danny Ferry certainly tipped his hand that his team is already looking ahead to the future — which may or may not include Josh Smith and Jeff Teague. In one of the weaker (and most exciting) drafts in recent memory, the Hawks largely went under the radar with their picks. But ultimately, they may emerge as some of the biggest winners of this draft. Here’s a breakdown of their four clever picks:
Lucas Nogueira (C, Brazil) at No. 16
Out of Atlanta’s four new additions, this one got the most amount of attention … but only because of Nogueira’s comical attempts to put his draft hat on his mega-Afro. And I’ll admit, watching the giant 7-footer tower over a grinning David Stern and then shake the commissioner’s hand while his hat held on to his Afro for dear life was one of the most amusing moments in an already exciting draft. But what might have been overlooked is how talented this Brazilian center is and how much potential he has for the future.
Nogueira brings the kind of rebounding, athleticism and shot blocking you want to see in a center, but he also has some scoring ability and decent ball handling for a big guy. He only averaged 5.4 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game last year in Spain, but he also only played 13.6 minutes per game. His per 40 numbers? Sixteen points, 10.2 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per game. If Josh Smith ends up leaving Atlanta, Nogueira could develop into a great complement to Al Horford, but even if J-Smoove stays, Nogueira will find solid minutes off the bench. The Hawks did well to trade for him, receiving him from the Dallas Mavericks for the No. 18 pick, which turned into Shane Larkin.
Dennis Schroeder (PG, Germany) at No. 17
By trading for the No. 16 pick and and taking Dennis Schroeder with the No. 17 pick, the Atlanta Hawks snagged the top two foreign prospects of the draft. Schroeder is a little undersized for a point guard, but he’s incredibly quick, crafty and athletic. He’ll probably see limited minutes with the Hawks if Teague sticks around, but if Atlanta’s current starting point guard leaves, Schroeder could fill the void.
In a weaker draft like this one, you have to bear in mind that the majority of these drafted players will be coming off the bench. However, as Atlanta’s draft picks show, bolstering the bench with young quality talents who have upsides was a pretty good way to go this year. Schroeder averaged 11.9 points and 3.3 assists in Germany last year, while shooting 43 percent from the floor and 40 percent from 3-point range. Imagine what he could do with an NBA coaching staff to help him fine-tune his game.
Mike Muscala (C, Bucknell) at No. 44
In their deal with the Mavs, the Hawks also received the No. 44 pick, which they used on Mike Muscala from Bucknell. Muscala was one of the most skilled big men in the draft and averaged 18.7 points, 11.1 rebounds, 2.4 blocks and 2.3 assists per game for the Bison last season. He also shot 51 percent from the floor and 79 percent from the free-throw line.
Obviously his position in a weaker draft should tell you the Hawks probably aren’t getting a future All-Star out of this pick, but Muscala has a certain dexterity and knowledge to his post game, allowing him to outsmart defenders and score in the paint. This pick becomes 10 times better if Josh Smith leaves Atlanta, but he has a decent shot at making the team and contributing off the bench for years to come.
Raul Neto (PG, Brazil) at No. 47
Neto is one of those foreign prospects that teams draft and keep stashed away because it’s uncertain whether or not he’ll ever come play in the United States, but that’s not the end of the world. If Neto does come and play in the NBA, this could be a second-round steal, especially for a Hawks team that may be losing Jeff Teague.
Neto is a bit undersized at 6’2″, but he’s a quality starter in Spain’s premier basketball league and averaged 8.7 points, 2.9 assists and 1.1 steals in just 25 minutes per game last season. He also shot 46 percent from the floor and could be a great backup point guard in a few years.
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