Summer League is right around the corner and when it comes to the Atlanta Hawks the focus is likely on guys like rookie Adreian Payne and 2013 draft pick Dennis Schröder. However, NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper recently mentioned Walter Tavares among five second-round picks to watch.
Tavares is a project - a 22-year-old, 7-foot-3 center who has only been playing since 2009 - worth the ride to the end. A 7-9 wingspan and some teams rating him in low-to-mid 30s is convincing like that. He has already progressed to being a shot blocker and general defensive presence. Imagine if he becomes more comfortable on offense. Imagine what even a single season of NBA practices and conditioning program will do. Just imagine.
That sounds very familiar as in many ways it was the same things that were said about Lucas Nogueira who was dealt to the Toronto Raptors in the Lou Williams trade. If you take a closer look, Tavares is already taller, weighs more and most importantly doesn't have the injury concerns. Nogueira missed two months of the 2014 season due to a severe case of tendinitis in his knees. That was an absence that strained his relationship with his Spanish team and will have him looking for other opportunities if he doesn't land in the NBA this season.
Whether Tavares suits up in Las Vegas with the Hawks this summer still hasn't been determined. Last summer Nogueira gained clearance just moments before Atlanta's first scheduled game was set to begin. It could be a similar situation this summer although Atlanta still hasn't released its roster for Vegas.
Tavares may not be an option for the Hawks for a couple of more seasons but it will be interesting to see what kind of progress he makes in the Spanish ACB during that time. Tavares appeared in 35 games including 17 starts for Gran Canaria this season. He led the team in rebounding and blocked shots while averaging just over 21 minutes a game. Gran Canaria finished fifth in the ACB standings.