NBA Draft rumors at this time of year are plentiful, but most involve big-name players or those expected to become big names once they reach the NBA.
Sometimes, pro scouts and general managers overlook certain players who go on to have outstanding NBA careers, and this draft includes a young talent who will have NBA front office personnel kicking themselves for years if they are not the ones wise enough to select him.
Remember the name Juan Hernangomez. He may not be a household name now, but he will be. According to Basketball Insiders, Hernangomez may be the steal of the 2016 NBA Draft.
At six-foot-nine, Hernangomez has displayed the deep shooting range coveted by NBA teams as the “stretch four” is very much in style in today’s game. His athleticism is considered excellent, and he reportedly plays the game with great intensity.
Another huge plus in Hernangomez’s favor is that unlike many foreign players, he will be available to play for an NBA team immediately, as his contract with Movistar Estudiantes has expired. Hoops Hype asked Hernangomez if he is prepared to come to the United States and play in the NBA next season.
“You wake up and practice every day in the pursuit of your dreams…and all kids dream about the NBA because we can see the best players in the world are there. You want to compete to be around the best. Of course I would like to go to the NBA next year. If I have the slightest chance of making it happen, I’m going to take that opportunity. Teams know I want to go. Some teams want me for right away, others would rather have me stay in Europe for a year. I’m not sure yet what’s going to happen.”
Given all those assets, why is Juan Hernangomez flying under-the-radar as this year’s NBA Draft approaches?
Like most European prospects, Hernangomez isn’t fully developed in terms of strength. It may take time to put some muscle on his 225-pound frame, but with the nutritional and training assistance available to NBA players, this should not be a long-term issue for the Spanish power forward.
There are questions about Juan Hernangomez’s play on the defensive end, where he is thought to be a bit undisciplined at times. However, he puts a great deal of effort into his defense, and when he is locked up one-on-one with an opponent, he shows strong defensive skills.
Hernangomez is viewed by NBA scouts as a player who tends to play with more energy than he does intelligence. The fact is that “Juancho” comes from a basketball family and was brought up around the game. The notion that he lacks high basketball IQ appears flawed, as his aggressive play may overshadow his knowledge of the game at times.
Another knock on Hernangomez, as reported by ESPN, is that he has no low-post game to speak of. There was a time when that would be a legitimate concern for an NBA power forward, but the way the game is played in 2016, most players who man the “four” spot are outside shooters who generally do not play around the basket. This situation is ideal for a player with Hernangomez’s skill set.
When Juan Hernangomez is analyzed in detail as an NBA prospect, two things stand out. One, he has skills and abilities that should make him a very effective player at the NBA level. Two, his perceived deficiencies are either overblown or are things that can easily be improved upon.
In a year when the NBA Draft pool is considered fairly weak, someone with Hernangomez’s talent, skill, and enthusiasm should be looked upon as a top prospect. However, projections indicate that he will likely be available late in the first round, which will be a boon to the NBA team who calls his name on draft night.
[Photo by Tribuna Madridista]