Nearly six years removed from leaving his home country of Brazil to sign with Spanish Euroleague team Unicaja Malaga, Augusto Cesar Lima is automatically eligible for the 2013 NBA Draft, having been on the radar of international scouts for what seems like forever. After missing much of last season with a back injury, Lima has filled a small role this year for Unicaja, which finished a disappointing 9th in the ACB. He appeared in 55 games, but played sporadically—just 10 minutes per game on average-- despite having become a naturalized Spanish citizen a little over a year ago and no longer occupying the spot of an import/American (non-European Union) player. He had somewhat of a bounce-back performance at this week's adidas EuroCamp, coming up with one strong game in particular in day two after fading in the first day and then sitting out the last day of action.
Augusto Cesar Lima Interview
Lima's intrigue as a prospect hasn't evolved much in recent years, remaining predicated on his combination of size, athleticism, and energy. Standing over 6'10 in shoes with a 7-foot wingspan, 9-foot standing reach and a solid 234-pound frame, Lima has the size and length to play either big man spot. He's a very good athlete whose mobility and willingness to bang on the boards allow him to impact the game with his hustle in spurts, particularly when his motor is running hot.
Offensively, Lima remains very limited, having averaged just 2.7 points over 10 minutes per-game this season, or 11 points per-40, the third worst rate of any player in our top-100 prospect rankings. Nearly half of his field goal attempts come on catch and shoot jumpers from the midrange, but most of his scoring is the result of his ability to finish off cuts, offensive rebounds and pick and rolls. Shooting 30% in the post and away from the rim as a jump shooter according to Synergy Sports Technology, Lima lacks consistent shooting mechanics and refined post moves. He doesn't have a consistent means to create his own shot with the ball in his hands and remains unpolished on the offensive end overall.
Lima does his best work on the offensive end when he's running the floor, setting screens, moving without the ball, and staying active. He doesn't have great touch around the rim and is not adept at finishing over defenders in a crowd, but his mobility and leaping ability make him a good target for lob and dump passes underneath. Capable of playing above the rim and finishing emphatically, Lima shot an impressive 60% at the rim this season.
Lima is a much more impressive defender than he is a scorer. Though he still has an occasional lapse in his fundamentals, and doesn't play with the same intensity all the time, Lima is a versatile defender when dialed in. Willing to bang on the block, Lima could stand to continue improving his frame to deal with stronger back-to-the-basket scorers, but he does a nice job inside the paint and going straight-up on the shot. Ranking among the top-20 per-minute pace adjusted defensive rebounders in the Euroleague this season, Lima can hold his own on the glass as well, although not quite to the extent that you might hope considering how limited he is in other areas.
Perhaps more impressively, though, Lima does a great job closing out shooters and defending away from the rim. Possessing good lateral quickness, he gets in a very low stance and moves his feet well defending the perimeter. His ability to show and recover on the pick and roll is impressive, and he could emerge as a rock solid player on this end of the floor with improved strength and seasoning, even if he isn't going to be a dominant shot-blocker.
Glued to the bench for long stretches this season behind former Magic draft pick Fran Vazquez and 2012 ACB Most Valuable Player Andy Panko, Lima had some nice moments in limited time this season, but has not taken a major step forward in his development the past few years to carve out a larger role. Having split time between the ACB and Unicaja's second teams for years, this was Lima's first season playing for the club's senior team full-time. The best stretch of Lima's career on paper came two years ago when he averaged 16.2 points and 11.2 rebounds per-40 minutes pace-adjusted on loan with then last-place Granada prior to turning in a couple of strong games among middling performances at the 2011 Eurocamp.
Considering his relative lack of opportunity and improvement in recent years, NBA teams will have to ask themselves just what kind of potential Lima has on the offensive end. He doesn't have the best feel for the game and is clearly limited in the scope of what he brings to the table on that end of the floor, but his defense and rebounding leave room for optimism should he be paired with the right set of players and focus on the things he does well. His day two performance at the 2013 adidas EuroCamp was encouraging, and could put him back in the mix to get hear his name called late in the second round, but ultimately Lima isn't generating the same excitement he did a few years back due to his stagnant development and the question marks about his motor.