NBA Draft 2021: Neemias Queta, introducing Portugal’s spectacular 7-footer

Mar 13, 2021; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Utah State Aggies center Neemias Queta (23) controls the ball while defended by San Diego State Aztecs forward Joshua Tomaic (23) during the first half at Thomas & Mack Center.

On July 29th, Neemias Queta is eligible for the NBA Draft 2021. The 7-foot player from Utah State looks to make history and be the first Portuguese player to play in the NBA. There are a lot of formidable players in this year’s NBA Draft. However, there are only 60 slots available, and Neemias’ projection is the second round. Neemias Queta attended pre-draft workouts from the Sixers, Hornets, Lakers, Bucks, Suns, Knicks, Raptors, and Kings.

Who is Neemias Queta?

Mar 12, 2021; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Utah State Aggies center Neemias Queta (23) reacts after dunking the ball and being fouled during the second half against the Colorado State Rams at Thomas & Mack Center.
Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Neemias Esdras Barbosa Queta was born on 13 July 1999 in Barreiro (Lisbon), Portugal.

Consequently, Neemias began playing in the youth sections of FC Barreirense. Eventually moving to the LBP (Portuguese Basketball League) and playing with SL Benfica in 2017-18.

In August of 2018, Neemias signed a contract with the Utah State Aggies, making his college basketball debut.

His start in Utah was impactful, so much, in fact, he was labeled as “arguably the best rim protector the Utah State basketball program has ever had.”

College resum�

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 16:  Neemias Queta #23 of the Utah State Aggies speaks during the post game news conference after his team defeated the San Diego State Aztecs in the championship game of the Mountain West Conference basketball tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center on March 16, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Utah State won 64-57.
David Becker/Getty Images

Neemias had the most impact on the team, paired up with Sam Merrill, who now plays in the NBA. This lead to Utah’s first 20-win year since 2012-13, which can tell you how big of an impact both players had.

1st Year averages: 11.8 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 2.4 BPG, 61% FG

After suffering a left knee injury, Neemias lost a great portion of the season, playing only 22 games, which messed his progress. However, he made a solid return to the team.

2nd Year averages: 13 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.7 BPG, 62% FG

With the absence of Sam Merrill, who left Utah State to play in the NBA, the team needed a new leader, and, as a result, Neemias stepped up his numbers.

3rd Year averages: 14.9 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 3.3 BPG, 56% FG

In the three years at college, Queta was named All-Mountain West First Team (2021); Two-time All-Mountain West Second Team (2019, 2020); Two-time Mountain West Defensive Player of The Year (2019, 2021); Three-time All-Mountain West Defensive Team (2019, 2020, 2021); Mountain West Freshman of The Year (2019).

Neemias was also one of the top 4 finalists of the 2021 Naismith Defensive Player of The Year, alongside Herbert Jones, Davion Mitchell, and Evan Mobley. All four are clear prospects and should be drafted this year as the top defenders of this year’s draft class.

Making history in the NBA

Feb 1, 2020; San Diego, California, USA; Utah State Aggies center Neemias Queta (23) and San Diego State Aztecs forward Yanni Wetzell (L) battle for position during the first half at Viejas Arena.
Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

In the NBA’s 75-year span, players from the entire world made a difference in NBA. At the same time, none of them came from Portugal. Portugal’s known for its success in soccer. However, when it comes to Basketball, the country is not very successful.

Not a single Portuguese player had enough talent to earn a shot at the NBA, but now Queta has the best opportunity. The country’s tunning in more to watch NBA, and with Neemias there, Portugal’s interest will only rise, opening many doors in the future.

But this won’t be the first time Neemias inspires his nation. Leading Portugal to win the FIBA Under-20 European Championship Division B in 2019 and qualifying to Division A (unprecedented).

After reaching the glory with Portugal, Queta was in the tournament’s top team. As a result, scouts began tracking his path that has NBA written all over it.

Neemias is, without a doubt, an incredible pickup, resembling the current Celtics player Robert Williams. He makes reads in defense, whether in the paint whether keeping up with his opponents on the perimeter. But especially tracking their shots and protecting the rim with his monstrous shot-blocking ability.

To me, three teams make sense drafting him:

Toronto Raptors

The Raptors lack depth in their center position. They need to address it in the NBA Draft, in which they own 3-Draft picks (4th, 46th, and 47th). With Queta’s projection to land in the late second round, the Raptors can use one of their picks and draft the Portuguese. It will be a good improvement for their depth, and certainly, help them soon.

Charlotte Hornets

As the current Rookie of The Year LaMelo Ball inspires them, Charlotte has a young and promising team. As opposed to Toronto, Charlotte has two current centers playing key minutes: Bismack Biyombo and Cody Zeller. However, both players are nowhere close to improving and do what the team needs to succeed. Neemias is a breath of fresh air and brings more explosive power on both sides of the floor and the glass. Plus, they own the 56th and 57th Draft picks.

Brooklyn Nets

Brooklyn is an interesting situation. They sacrificed their young core to win right now by adding Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and James Harden. But they lost some depth and right now have zero centers to play. Yes, Blake Griffin and Jeff Green can run small-ball at the 5, but they’re not getting younger and don’t have the presence to protect the paint from other bigs.

With 3-Draft picks (44th, 49th, and 59th), Brooklyn can afford to risk one of their picks in a defensive and explosive player that can help a much necessary new set of fresh legs.

The NBA Draft occurs on July 29th at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. With many prospects in a stacked draft class, there are many possibilities for the 30 NBA teams.

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