The Hawks not only looked outside the college ranks but beyond the United States for their two first-round picks in Thursday’s NBA Draft.
The Hawks got a 7-footer by trading up one spot for the rights to Brazilian center Lucas Nogueira with the 16th overall pick. They then used the 17th overall pick to take German point guard Dennis Schroeder.
Nogueira was taken by the Celtics, who obtained the pick from the Mavericks in an earlier trade for the 13th pick. In addition to the rights for Nogueira, the Hawks also got guard Jared Cunningham and the 44th overall pick from the Mavericks. They gave up the rights to their 18th selection of Miami guard Shane Larkin.
The move allows the Mavericks to dump salary, a goal the team reportedly had in order to be bidders in free agency.
Nogueira is currently averaging 5.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 13.3 minutes playing for Aesfa Estudiantes Madrid of the Spanish ACB League.
The 20-year-old Nogueira, who weighs 225 pounds, is nicknamed ‘Bebe Gigant’ meaning Baby Giant. He provided one of the lighter moments of the draft when an attempt to put a Celtics hat proved difficult due to his healthy amount of hair.
“Lucas has both a tremendous level of talent, charisma as well, he can do things athletically with his length, protecting around the rim, finishing around the rim,” Hawks general manager Danny Ferry said. “He has a good understanding of the game. He’s a good basketball player. He’s a good teammate.”
Nogueira was in New York for the draft and is expected in Atlanta as soon as Friday.
Schroeder, 6-1, 168 pounds, currently plays for the New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig in Germany’s Beko League. The 19-year-old is averaging 11.9 points and 3.3 assists in 24.7 minutes in the league where he was an all-star.
“Dennis is tenacious, athletic, a good basketball player, highly competitive kid,” Ferry said. “I think he can have a very bright future in the NBA with hard work and developing and the opportunity.
“He can shoot the basketball at a good level. He can get in the lane and make plays for people. Defensively he can put great pressure on the ball. He is a good two-way basketball player that plays with a high level of competitiveness when he gets on the court.”
The Hawks used their three second-round picks on Bucknell center Mike Muscala (No. 44), Brazilian guard Raul Neto (No. 47) and Long Beach State forward James Ennis (No. 50). Neto was traded to the Jazz and Ennis was then to the Heat for future second-round picks.
Schroeder, reached via Sype at nearly 7 a.m. in Germany, said he watched the draft on television with his family.
“I didn’t expect (to be picked by the Hawks) because I didn’t do a workout,” Schroeder said. “I’m very glad that the Hawks pick me because I think the game fits me very well. … I think my strengths are to try to play defense, try to lead the team and try to get everyone to play together. If I do that, I can have a good relationship with team and win games.”
Ferry said Schroeder caught the team’s eye at the Hoop Summit where he helped the World Select team defeat the U.S. Junior National Select team 112-98. He had 18 points and six assists in 29 minutes in the game played in Portland in April.
“It was an excellent opportunity to see what he could do,” Ferry said. “It was especially good.”
Ferry did not disclose future plans for each draftee, including whether they will play in next month’s Las Vegas Summer League.
“I do think that both guys we drafted in the first round can be very solid parts of our future,” Ferry said. “… If we develop them and give them the opportunity for those next steps, I’m confident they can be successful.”
Cunningham, 6-4, 195 pounds, played in eight games with the Mavericks last season. He averaged 2.0 points in 3.3 minutes. Cunningham, first-time all Pac-12 at Oregon State in 2012, was selected 24th overall by the Cavaliers last season before a draft-day trade to the Mavericks.
Cunningham appeared in 15 games with the Mavericks’ NBA Development League affiliate the Texas Legends. He averaged 15.3 points and 3.0 assists.