, born in Argentina 24 years ago, is one of the top small forwards in Europe. It hasn't been an easy road for him to get where he is at right now, though, as he's not one of those naturally super talented players. Everything he's become is because of his fighting character and hard-working attitude.
After some solid seasons in Argentina, with a sixth-man award included, Nocioni went to Europe in 2000 to sign with TAU Vitoria, one of the powerhouses of the Old Continent for some years now. He was even loaned to a second-division team for one season, not a very common thing for an already 21 year old prospect and soon-to-be stud with an EU passport. Back in Vitoria, he reached European stardom (16.8 points and 7.5 rebounds in the Euroleague in the 2002/03 season), and earned MVP honors in the Spanish ACB league last season, despite suffering an injury that affected his game, averaging 15.5 points and 7.1 rebounds (13.7 points and 5.7 rebounds in the Euroleague).
He has shined equally bright with the Argentinean national team as well. In the1999 pre-Olympic tournament, a vicious dunk on Kevin Garnett
's head went around the globe. He was also a key contributor at the World Championships in Indianapolis in 2002 where Argentina won the silver medal, averaging 12.8 points (third on his team, right after Ginobili and Oberto) and 4.8 rebounds (second,just behind Oberto). In the historic win against team USA, he had 14 points and 4 rebounds.Strengths and Weaknesses:
Nocioni is known as a fierce competitor, an intense and physical player that is gifted with great athleticism. Nocioni's game has evolved to the category of an almost complete all-around player. He hasn't lost a single bit of his heart on the way, his intensity or his love for the physical game never wavered, but he has matured and significantly polished his abilities.
The most noticeable development comes in the shooting department. His jumper has become quite reliable, from mid-range distance out to the three point line. One look at his style is enough to know that he's not a pure shooter, but he can and will knock it down, even off the dribble.
When he doesn't have enough space to shoot, he usually opts for the penetration option, taking the ball fearlessly to the hoop, usually looking for contact with his opponent while taking advantage of his excellent strength and getting a fair amount of baskets plus the foul. He has good handles and likes to carry the ball down the court in transition after grabbing a defensive rebound. Although not his main strength, he can pass the ball and he's a fairly good decision maker. Defensively he's very tough. It's almost impossible to out-hustle him. He uses his strength and athleticism to get some spectacular blocks and dominates the glass using these traits as well.
Nocioni's intense game sometimes costs him in the form of personal fouls, so you can say he's a little foul prone. His ability to score in the NBA will probably suffer somewhat as a big part of his game in Europe relies on his superior athleticism and strength, advantages that he probably won't be able to exploit, at least not as explicitly, in the NBA. Because of his role as the number one option in Spain he also sometimes forces things offensively. He might also suffer against quicker wing players, as his lateral defensive movement is average.Why sign him?
Nocioni is the kind of player every coach loves to have. You can expect him to be the guy that plays as hard as anyone around, bringing intensity and energy to his team and not being an offensive liability at all. In the NBA he would be a role player, not a huge scoring threat, but the kind of player every winning team needs to have. Not having a big scoring responsibility might be an even better situation for him. He's good enough to be a starter at the NBA level, but he could be equally valuable off the bench. The adaptation process wouldn't be dramatic for him. Since he's not a pure shooter he might suffer initially from the NBA three-point line which is a little farther back, but that's not really a huge concern. He's undoubtedly one of the most NBA-ready players you will find in Europe.
The biggest knock on Nocioni in order to sign him is his price. He's not just a high-valued player in Europe, his buyout is quite expensive as well, supposedly around $2 million dollars, which would force a team to dig deep into its mid level exception before they even started negotiating his salary. Besides, he doesn't seem all that interested right now in playing in the NBA that he would be willing to sacrifice too much. He wants playing time and wouldn't leave Vitoria unless someone convinces him that he would get significant minutes.