A throw-in from a June 2014 trade could have an impact on the Raptors’ 2016-17 campaign.
Bebe Nogueira, the 7-0 man with incredible hair and an even more incredible 7-6 wingspan, will have the opportunity to show he belongs in this league. We have seen the 24-year-old in spurts, but the departure of Bismack Biyombo and addition of a developing Jakob Poeltl, Nogueira could carve out a real bench role this season. Biyombo provided the back-up centre blueprint for Nogueira, but there are still steps he needs to take to be able to hold down the spot.
What was he last year?
In 2015-16, Nogueira shuffled between the 905s and Raptors, mostly filling with the big-league squad when Jonas Valanciunas went down with a fractured hand in late November. With the Raptors, Nogueira was intriguing yet raw. There were flashes of capability from the Brazilian, but he could not sustain a replacement-level of play.
His length was a weapon on both offence and defence. Kyle Lowry lobbed balls up where only the seven footer could get it, giving Nogueira alley-oop attempts or near-rim catch-and-finish opportunities. Bebe shot 63% last year, including 72% on shots from 0-2 feet from the rim. Defensively, Nogueira’s wingspan translated into decent rim protection and deterred some guards from even attacking the paint.
In the D-League, the Brazilian was similarly effective in more playing time, albeit only 11 games. He shot 57% and blocked 1.7 shots in 25.2 minutes per game.
In short, Nogueira was unpredictable. There were moments where he looked like he could be a disruptive force on both ends, only for him to completely run out of gas a few plays later.
Where can they improve?
Consistency is going to be the key. If Bebe is going to be a legitimate option for Toronto, he has to be relatively consistent throughout the year. It is fair to expect some games where Bebe gets into foul trouble, but the Raptors can’t afford for Bebe to take plays off. Part of the reason Biyombo was so effective was because he played with a high level of energy and did everything with a purpose.
Bebe has to improve his awareness on the court as well. This is a tall ask for someone who played limited minutes, but hopefully the D-League minutes will improve his feel on-court. Look for Nogueira to be settled on the court, not shuffling his feet chaotically or jumping out in screen and roll coverage. This is just one play, but in the first defensive sequence of the game against Denver, Bebe picked up a defensive three-seconds violation and then followed that up with a foul.
On offence, Bebe needs to continue to be a hard roll guy, just like Biyombo was. His length is his strength, and teams have to respect the Brazilian’s ability to catch-and-finish. A hard roller can preoccupy the weak side defender just for a second, ideally allowing a pass to the corner for an open three. In a perfect world, Cory Joseph uses a Nogueira screen, Bebe rolls hard to the rim, the weak-side defender takes a step to help, Joseph snake dribbles and kicks the ball to an open Brady Heslip for a corner three. (Ok, the last part is my perfect world, but it’s more likely to be Terrence Ross or Norm Powell taking the corner shot.)
What’s their role this year?
He’s probably an 11th or 12th man. Nogueira didn’t play until the second half of the first pre-season game and has been getting less minutes than Poeltl and I’m not sure how many minutes there are going to be at the five. Assuming the Raptors stay healthy, Casey will go small with Sullinger at the five and Carroll at the four, and Patterson will probably see some time there too. What minutes are left over?
Nogueira is a fascinating talent because of his body, but I’m not sure that this team really wants what Bebe could offer. Coming out of the draft, the team talked about Poeltl’s versatility and ability to run the floor, two traits that can’t be used to describe Nogueira. Bebe will have to be excellent in limited minutes to earn the trust of Casey, a tall order given Nogueira’s career so far.Follow @raptorsrepublic