Willy Hernangomez leaps for a lefty dunk vs. the Lakers

NBA Superlatives 2021-22: Pelicans center Willy Hernangomez

Now in his second season with New Orleans, center Willy Hernangomez has a unique vantage point on the NBA, having grown up in Spain dreaming of playing in the league. He and his brother Juan – a forward for the Boston Celtics – have faced each other roughly a dozen times since they were drafted in the mid-2010s. The 26-year-old Juan holds “draft bragging rights” over his 27-year-old sibling, having been picked by Denver just outside of the 2016 lottery, after Willy was a second-round choice in 2015.

Willy, who split the first four years of his NBA career playing for New York and Charlotte, joined Pelicans.com to discuss the league and some of his top moments:

Most memorable moment in the NBA: “The first time I played against my brother (Juan). My family was there. It was at Madison Square Garden when I was playing for the Knicks. It was a very, very emotional moment, playing against your brother, and having your parents and sister there in the arena.”

Most memorable dunk in the NBA: “I’ve got a lot of them. [laughs] But I’d say in the NBA, a dunk on Andre Drummond my rookie year I think. It was one of my best dunks.”

Most embarrassing moment in the NBA: “When I was in Charlotte I tried to dunk on somebody, but I just fell down and the ball didn’t even touch the rim. It was terrible. I tried to forget about it.”

Most surprising thing about the NBA as a rookie: “Everything. The NBA is something unique. My motivation is still the same since the first day. This is my sixth year in the league and 10th as a professional. There is nothing like the NBA. Every day you’re going to have fun and really be happy and proud of where you are.”

Toughest players to face at his position: “Joel Embiid. One of favorite ex-teammates, Steven Adams. And right now one of my current teammates, Jonas Valanciunas. Those three are beasts.”

Most underrated player in the NBA: “I’m a big fan of Devonte’ Graham. Having him on my team, I think he’s going to have a breakout season, for sure. Also, my brother in Boston.”

Best uniforms in the NBA (besides the Pelicans’): “I like Miami’s uniforms. Boston’s are nice because (many basketball) legends (wore them).”

Favorite road arena: “Miami because it’s a Latino city – I feel at home there. Or Madison Square Garden.”

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