When the Atlanta Hawks drafted Brazilian big man Lucas Nogueira with the 16th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, many people were skeptical of the choice, but when he flashed his unlimited athleticism and potential in Las Vegas, the fan base seemed to come around a bit. Unfortunately, that positive momentum hasn’t continued once Nogueira returned to Spain, and now, it looks like he’ll be on the shelf for a while.
— Chris Vivlamore (@ajchawks) December 20, 2013
Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Nogueira has been diagnosed with severe tendonitis in his knees, and due to that issue, he’ll be sidelined for at least 2 months. This is a huge worry for the long-term prospects of the 7-footer, as big men with knee issues don’t often see them evaporate, and at only 20 years old, he needs floor time to continue his development.
When we last heard from Nogueira, he was severing ties with his Spanish professional team (per Peachtree Hoops) in order to get another opinion on his knee trouble, and he has been in America getting that input. Vivlamore also indicates that he’ll remain in the U.S. in order to continue his rehab after 2 months of “rest”, but it will be a good while before we see him on the court (any court) again.
Initially, my reaction to this news was “oh no”, but I do think it is important to maintain context here. The amount of detail that we have on this particular injury (given the locale in which he currently plays, etc.) is minimal, and from the very beginning, Nogueira was considered to be a raw, “upside” play that wouldn’t make a big-time impact in Atlanta until, at the very least, 2014-2015. Stay tuned for more information as it comes.