Nogueira Thrilled For New NBA Opportunity With Raptors

Holly MacKenzie -

When Lucas Nogueira was selected by the Atlanta Hawks in the 2013 NBA Draft,  he created one of the best moments of the night when he tried — unsuccessfully — to get his draft hat to fit over his hair.

A year later, Nogueira is a Toronto Raptor and he would like everyone to know he’s pretty psyched about it. 

“So happy,” he said. “It made me sad when the Hawks traded me. I was surprised, sad and mad. But when I heard about the trade to Toronto I'm so happy, because I know the guys from Toronto… I know a lot of staff, so I know they followed me five years ago and they believe in my game. When I heard about the trade to Toronto, that made me so happy, because I don't know, if I go to another team, I don't know if I have the same encouragement. Here, I believe in everybody and everybody believes in my game.”

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Nogueira has only spent a single day in Toronto so far, but he is looking forward to learning more about the new city he’ll call home. 

“Everybody tells me very good things about the city,” Nogueira said.  “Great people. The city is so clean.”

While Nogueira and fellow Brazilian Bruno Caboclo didn’t know each other prior to both becoming Raptors the two are now spending plenty of time together as Nogueira has worked to help Caboclo with his English. Nogueira knows what it’s like to join a team and have to deal with a language barrier.

“We stay together for breakfast, lunch and dinner every time,” Nogueira said. “Sometimes I try to help him in English, where to position (himself) on the court. He is very talented, has great potential. He has one very good thing, he listens to the coaches and the staff. I think he will be a very good player in the NBA.

“He has a great wingspan. It's hard finding guys like him, same height but have big wingspan. He's so athletic, so I like when he tries to make dunks and rebound or cut or go to the rim.”

Nogueira said the bulk of his English learning came from time spent with his teammates in the locker room over his six seasons playing professionally in Spain.

These two games in Las Vegas have been Nogueira’s first game action since May 25th so he is working himself into playing shape. 

“Sometimes I feel more difficult for me, [is the] running back and transition,” he said. “I know my talent. My talent is because the physical. Right now, I feel like tired, but I'll never give up.”

Smiling widely throughout his interview, Nogueira didn’t want to stop talking. Continuing to answer questions despite being told he needed to head to his ride to get a drive back to the team hotel, there was one more thing he wanted Raptors fans to know about him before he left the arena for the day: 

“I'm a happy guy, I like to smile,” Nogueira said. ”I think you should be happy every day because you have just one life. You have to be happy every time.”