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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.

  • dishqust

    A preview of Bebe without mentioning his passing ability seems incomplete. Yes I know that without a consistent defensive presence he’s unplayable but on offense I don’t know if his role is just dive man. I can picture a him at the top of the key hitting cutters and nailing jumpers if left open as he’s shown some range too.

    • Mike$

      Yes that passing ability is in his skill set, but its not what the Raptors will ask of him. They need him to defend, rebound and set good screens. Thats basically it.

      You don’t change your entire offensive system to accommodate a player that might struggle to see the floor every game. He might have a chance to showcase his passing when he catches the ball on the move after the pick (made an amazing pass in the preseason in this situation) but to have him run the offence is just too much. You can’t have every player on the Raps learn 5 or 6 new plays for a guy so far back in the rotation. Thats something you do for a guy that can play 20 minutes a game.

      • Henry Swagson

        Bums like McRoberts get plays like that run for them, I think they should’ve experimented more in the preseason as that’s what preseason is for. But Casey is stubborn the only thing I don;t like about him. I’d also like him to run more things for JV to diversify out offence but hey.

        Regarding to Bebe, that guy isn’t serious he hardly looks any different body wise after he said he’s been hitting the gym (lol), he doesn’t want to box out and bang down low like how all the guys Casey do (JV/Amir/PsychoT/Biz/,etc). I’d prefer Poeltl to be the backup by December/January.

        • Mike$

          The plays run for guys like McRoberts are different. They usually have a starter counterpart that gets a similar play call. So yes there are plays run for them, but they are just slightly tweaked.

          Its kind of like how Ross had some very similar plays to DD. Except Ross would get his down screens closer to the arc so he would catch at 3pt range and DD would catch in the mid range. Similar just slightly tweaked to account for Ross’s extended range.

          We currently don’t run very many plays with JV at the top of the key with the ball, looking for cutters. Doing that for Bebe would mean learning completely new sets, which is much different than getting a play run thats slightly tweaked to fit his strengths.

          Agree with your assessment of Bebe. He needs to start doing the things Casey asks of him if he wants to stay in the lineup. Poeltl is working hard for those minutes, and he’s a sponge.

  • JA

    I was at the San Lorenzo game. Perhaps it was due to the level of competition and Bebe trying to “have a big game”, but instead of playing solid D and grabbing an extra 4-5 rebounds – he gambled for and missed like 6-7 block attempts, leading to a lot of offensive rebounds/second chance points for the other team.

  • Mike$

    Just a weird guy. After watching his interview yesterday and some of his interviews last year he seems insistent on making things as hard as possible for himself to stay in the league. He talks in interviews about practicing to be a power forward and becoming a 3pt shooter. No matter how hard you work, if you are not working on the right things, you won’t improve within the system. He said it himself that Casey isn’t looking for his passing or 3 pt ability. The Raps need a guy who can defend, rebound and set screens. Its like working hard all summer to be the best swimmer you can be, thinking all the hard work you put in will make you a great sprinter.

    Sure he might use those skills in the future, but he won’t have a future in the NBA if he can’t get on the court with the Raps this year. Hopefully he comes out and does the little things and shows he can play in the NBA. Once he’s established himself, then he can get the minutes to show off some of his unique skills.

    • Mexiballer

      Funny interview. Shooting threes? What cloud is he living on? Use the time to get in the weight room and strengthen your body and practice rebounding. Toughen up Bebe. That just might keep you in the NBA.

  • Mexiballer

    Bebe’s rebounding effort and ability to block his man out are weak.( Something Poeltl does very well) At 7 feet with his length he should all over the boards. He often stands and watches when he should be in there fighting for the ball.

    My guess is Poeltl will pass him up for the open rotation spot once he gets some experience and learns the system. Sooner rather then later.

    • Dunkenstein

      He often stands and watches when he should be in there fighting for the ball.>>…..Another Bargnani…I hated when the big Italian did that but he did it often.

      • Mexiballer

        Bargnani has come to my mind as well. And Bargnani had way more skills then Bebe ever will. But soft is soft and it wont get the job done.

        • bizzy

          He is soft but he definitely disrupts teams with his length. That golden state game he was a pure game changer. Him and lowry have pretty good chemistry. The problem with him has been health. Specifically groin and ankle injuries. If he could get healthy he could definitely be a difference maker. He just needs some reps.

          • Mexiballer

            He definitely has some skills to go with that length. I won’t disagree with that. All the more disappointing that he hasn’t pulled up his bootstraps Ann become a legit player. If he had been serious from the moment he arrived he would probably be a solid backup at the five spot. As it is he has Poeltl breathing down his neck and Poeltl is a very skilled guy who is serious about reaching his potential.I believe it’s to late for Bebe to win the position long term.maybe as third string centre r as insurance Masai will keep him around on a cheap contract next year.

          • distorsun

            You canNOT be soft in the NBA.
            Even if you are skilled, the coach will PULL you out after 2 missed boxouts.
            His days are numbered, unless he pulled some ‘reggie evans’ out of off his hat.

  • ikonn

    Keep Bebe for now, pick up the team option prinarily for future trade filler. Let’s see if he can really bring the passion and intensity to be more than just a 7 foot guy.

    Drop Bruno to make room for someone else. He’s wasting a roster spot.

    • Mike$

      Bruno has shown a lot of good defence in the preseason. I’d rather have a 21 year old with that amount of potential on my team than someone like Crawford who isn’t that much better (better, but not enough to be a difference on any NBA team).