It’s been a rough rookie season for the Raptors young center with the outgoing personality and the wild hair. Lucas ‘Bebe’ Nogueira has gone through a litany of minor injuries that have kept him out of the lineup and even impacted his ability to get playing time in the NBA D-League. However, Nogueira believes he has figured out what he needs to do to stick in the NBA. He has an idea of what went wrong and a plan for what he needs to do next. His brief recent stint with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants only served to reinforce those observations as he put up some big numbers doing what he does best.
“(The D-League) was an amazing experience except I got hurt again,” Nogueira told Pro Bball Report. “(It) was really like (NBA) Summer League. You really got to run because there are a lot of young players, athletic players and they want to come to the League, so they want to show. People think the D-League is b#llsh!t games, but no, especially for me – I have a contract in the NBA – so they want to show me they deserve my contract, so every player, they want to kill me, show they deserve my contract. So every game I take like a challenge and I am happy because I did great. It was a very hard challenge for me because every game is a tough game. A lot of up and down because people want to (fight for) a contract to come to the (NBA). (It was) a great experience.”
Nogueira wasn’t injury free before coming to the NBA, but he has never experienced anything quite like what has been happening this season. It’s been frustrating and he has been searching for answers. Hopefully, he has found a solution.
“I never had a problem with injuries (before), but NBA is a different game,” Nogueira said. “It is more physical than in Spain, in Europe, so when you play a physical game – I spoke with a couple of doctors and therapy guys in Brazil and France and they told me,
“Lucas probably because your body, after seven years in Spain, the NBA is a very different game, way more physical, maybe your body is not ready. There’s been a lot of change in your life, playing in Europe and now the NBA, maybe this is why you don’t have (big injuries), but smaller injuries like torn muscles – maybe your body needs to get stronger to handle (things) because it is a completely different game from Spain.”
Nogueira has that long lanky seven foot frame with arms that go forever and it’s possible he never really felt pushed to improve his body while in Europe. The 22-year-old is listed at 225 lbs and he doesn’t look any heavier than that. There is plenty of opportunity for him to add a little bulk and get stronger over the off season.
“This offseason will be more special because I got hurt again, so I have to figure out what I will do with my body, but it’s nothing secret,” Nogueira said. “I am a rookie so there are a lot of places like LA, Vegas, Houston, New York City, Vancouver to do workouts, a lot of camps, a lot of individual workouts. It’s not a secret. I will take my summer to figure out what’s going on with my body and (find out) why I got hurt and what I need to improve. Right now I just want to see why I tear my muscle every time – this is not the first time.
“The most important thing for me right now is to get stronger. If I get stronger, I can hold the players in the post and I think if I get stronger, I can stop these injuries.”
Nogueira arrived in Toronto with a skill set the Raptors were looking for. When healthy, he can run the floor like a guard, sky above the rim like a wing, and he has the length and mobility to be an effective rim protector. Those things come naturally, but he has to stay healthy enough to get on a court in either the NBA or the D-League so he can learn the NBA game.
This will be a huge summer for the Brazilian. He turns 23 in July and by the time next season is over, he’ll need to have shown that all that natural talent can be turned into something effective at an NBA level. He needs to stay healthy enough to play.
photo credit Paul Saini Fylmm.com
“I learned only mental (aspects) because I didn’t play a lot of minutes,” Caboclo said. “They had a lot of old(er) guys and they helped me. I had games where I was not playing, like five games, zero minutes. It is hard working but not playing, but this is the process.”