A stage replaced the court in the practice facility at Philips Arena as the Atlanta Hawks prepared to introduce their three draft picks to the media. All clad in Hawks polo shirts, Danny Ferry and Budenholzer led Dennis Schroeder, Mike Muscala, and Lucas Nogueira to the stage for what was a more entertaining than enlightening press conference.
Ferry opened with a welcome message and then remarks on the three draft picks that mirrored his statement the night of the draft when he spoke with the few of us that remained in the media room at midnight once the second round had finished.
"Welcome guys. Welcome to Atlanta, we call it the ATL, it'll be on your uniform every once in a while. We're very excited to welcome these young men into the Hawks program. We were excited that they were available for us in the draft. The draft is obviously a very important part of building a team, especially in this new NBA under the current CBA. Every pick is important and everything you do along the way is important, and I want to commend my staff led by Wes Wilcox in great due diligence throughout the year. A lot of hard work, a lot of time away from their families to get to this point where we have the opportunity to introduce these three young talented guys...Excited to have these guys, a point guard and two big guys here that can hopefully be a big part of what we do moving forward. The draft is only the first part..."
Mike Budenholzer echoed the same sentiments in his statement prior to the Q&A session, welcoming the rookies and saying how excited he was to start working with them.
The Q&A session was not very informative in terms of enlightening us as to the role the rookies would play this season, as we were once again reminded of the tight-lipped approach of Ferry and Budenholzer. When asked about who would be on the Summer League roster, Ferry would not confirm which rookies would be there (we learned that they have to work out contract issues with FIBA for Schroeder and Nogueira), but Muscala confirmed to me after the press conference that he will be playing in Las Vegas. When asked whether Lucas or Dennis would be playing overseas, Danny once again stated that decisions would have to be made in due time.
While Ferry and Budenholzer kept their plans to themselves (and truthfully they won't know much for sure until after free agency), we did learn four definite things from this press conference:
1: Lucas Nogueira is my new favorite Hawk, and he probably should be yours. Despite being new to speaking English, he still dropped an all-time one-liner on us. When asked if he had found a barber in town, Nogueira said, "My hair is my marketing, I can't cut it." He also said he wanted to model his game after Marcus Camby and Joakim Noah. I love this guy.
2: The Hawks think Mike Muscala was a steal at 44. The Hawks have had him on their radar throughout the year, with Ferry even taking a trip to Bucknell to watch him play earlier in the year (I asked Ferry about the trip, he said, "I ate at a fast food chain and watched a basketball game. It was a good game."). Muscala had also been in for two workouts before the draft. Ferry loves to talk about Mike's game and it's clear that he thinks Mike will have a long career in the NBA.
3. Dennis Schroeder was welcomed to Atlanta in a strange way. "Dennis landed here an hour ago, we fed him. He had pizza," Danny said as Dennis got a big smile on his face when Danny mentioned the pizza. C'mon now, pizza? At least Muscala knew how to properly introduce himself to Atlanta cuisine.
Thanks for all the suggestions. Line was long so figured it would be a good time to try chick fil a for the 1st time. Great
Thanks for all the suggestions. Line was long so figured it would be a good time to try chick fil a for the 1st time. Great— Mike Muscala (@mikejawz) June 29, 2013
4. DID I MENTION WHY LUCAS NOGUEIRA SHOULD BE YOUR NEW FAVORITE PLAYER?! When it came time for photos, Lucas was forced to put on a hat over his afro, which hilariously frustrated him as he kept taking the hat off, slapping at it, putting it back on, and shaking his head. Also, when he came off the stage Danny told him he did well, and he told Danny that his hands were sweating because he was so nervous about having to answer questions. Again, Lucas is awesome.
Personally, this group of rookies is fantastic. They're all exceptionally nice and seem to be genuine in their willingness to work towards becoming better players. This comes as no surprise as character and work ethic are two things constantly harped on by Ferry and Budenholzer. How they'll fare on the court? We'll have to wait and see. For some, like Lucas, that wait may be longer than others.