This year’s NBA draft class has been difficult to project with a shortage of elite top-end talent, a glut of promising mid-tier players and a few intriguing international prospects. As we move closer to draft night, players are going through workouts with teams and moving up and down the draft boards.
One player who has moved his way up some boards with his recent workouts is 20-year-old Juan Hernangomez. The 6’9, 220-pound forward, who most recently played with Estudiantes in Spain, showed off a nice shooting touch and surprising explosiveness at a recent workout in front of 23 NBA teams at the Relativity Sports Pro Day held at the IMG Academy in Florida.
Basketball Insiders managing editor and publisher Steve Kyler was on the scene and came away impressed with Hernangomez. This is what he had to say about the young prospect in Basketball Insiders’ most recent Consensus Mock Draft:
Hernangomez spoke with Basketball Insiders after his workout and discussed what it’s like to work out for NBA teams and different aspects of his developing game among other things.
“Well, this is my first time to be here, so I’m really surprised. I feel really amazing,” Hernangomez said when asked about working out in front of 23 NBA teams. “So the first time [I didn’t want to be nervous] so [I could do] do everything that I do well.”
Hernangomez’s main draw is his size and ability to shoot the long ball, which is so important in today’s NBA. He has solid mechanics on his jumper and has all the tools to be a deadly stretch-four in the NBA. In addition, he has experience playing high-level European basketball, which should have him relatively well prepared to jump to the NBA.
In 34 games played with Estudiantes this season, Hernangomez averaged 9.7 points and 5.7 rebounds per game, while shooting 45.5 percent from the field and 35.8 percent from three-point range. Now Hernangomez is getting a chance to show off his developing game in controlled workouts. Unsurprisingly, his shooting was one of the most impressive parts of his game on display during the workout.
“No, no,” Hernangomez said when asked if he expected to shoot as well as he did. “I wanted to be focused on [each individual shot] so at the end I would do really great.”
While Hernangomez has solid length and a frame that should fill out moving forward, it’s not clear how well he can handle going up against NBA-caliber big men. He has shown in the past that he doesn’t mind fighting for rebounds and finishing through contact, but it’s hard to see him holding his own in the post against someone like LaMarcus Aldridge or Blake Griffin.
Fortunately for Hernangomez, he showed off a surprising affinity for absorbing contact and fighting through it in his workout.
“Yeah, I love the contact,” Hernangomez said. “It’s a different kind of play [between] Europe and USA, so I want to practice for a long time. I want to do it with a lot of energy and that’s it.”
If Hernangomez is able to match up physically with NBA big men sooner than expected, that would certainly make him one of the more intriguing players in this year’s draft class. In his time with Estudiantes, Hernangomez has shown that he has a fluid game and that he can take the ball off the dribble, in addition to his notable shooting stroke. Teams are well aware of these attributes, but are still trying to figure out what kind of player Hernangomez can be in a few years once he puts on some more muscle and is more physically developed.
While Hernangomez isn’t going to throw down highlight worthy dunks like DeAndre Jordan, he did display some notable explosiveness in his recent workout.
“Yeah, I want to prove every area, that I got it,” Hernangomez said when asked about his athleticism. “I want to be the most [complete] player that I can [be], so that’s the way. Improve everything and work so hard.”
While there is a lot to already like about Hernangomez, it is possible that a team could draft him with the intent of stashing him overseas for another year or two. While Hernangomez does not have a buyout clause (meaning he can come to the NBA immediately), he still has not decided whether he will jump to the NBA this upcoming season.
“No, I only want to enjoy this practice and enjoy the draft,” Hernangomez said when asked if he had decided whether he would come to the NBA next season. “I don’t know what position [I’ll be selected at], so it depends on the draft. Until the draft, [once I’m chosen], I’ll then have to [then] make a decision with my family, with my agent, with everybody.”
Whether Hernangomez comes to the NBA next season or at some point in the future, it’s clear that he has the potential to be a valuable addition for any team. Big men who can stretch the floor, take the ball of the dribble and rebound are considered valuable assets and Hernangomez has already proven that he is capable of doing all of those thing. The big question is determining what else he will be able to do in a few seasons. If his recent workouts are any indication, the future looks pretty bright for Hernangomez.
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