The 7 ft 0 in center, who was a big star during the college season (averaging 13 points and 9 rebounds), played a total of 3 seasons for the Utah State Aggies. Last Summer, it finally happened: Neemias turned up for the draft and was picked by the Sacramento Kings, making him the first Portuguese player ever in the NBA.
Who Is Neemias Queta?
Neemias was born in Barreiro, just 40 minutes away from the capital, Lisbon. He started playing at 10 years old on Barreirense, the local team from his hometown, a team that has a lot of history in Portuguese basketball.
In 2017, he moved to the secondary team of Benfica, but only played 4 games in the main team. Nonetheless, he moved to the US in 2018 after being offered a college sponsorship and by this time, most people wouldn’t believe what he could achieve as he was never a big star for his former teams.
When he started playing in the US, things were different. In the first year, he had a great season, played all 35 games, and won Freshman of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year.
In the 2nd year, he was again one of the main strengths of the team despite an injury (where he missed 9 games) and in the 3rd season, he was nominated to the First Team of the West.
The First Portuguese In The NBA
After 3 years of amazing success, Quetão, as he likes to be called (and also his Twitter username) was one of the few, from a total of 69, that got the call for the NBA Draft Combine. This is an annual event where young players get the chance to show their talent to the 30 teams in the league.
Queta did a great job and went on in interviews with some of the major names in NBA such as the Lakers, Raptors, Bucks, and the Celtics. Arriving on the big day, some people were rating him as a fit for the Raptors, who had the 4th pick, but his fate was to end up in Sacramento.
It’s important to mention that, despite Neemias being the first Portuguese in the men’s NBA, in the women’s league there was already an athlete from Portugal before. Ticha Penicheiro had a long career in the WNBA and was even recently named one of the top 25 players ever in the history of the competition.
Life After The Draft
After being picked on July 30th, as the 39th pick, the center signed a contract with the Sacramento Kings, being picked to play for the second team, Stockon Kings, in the G League.
The first glance we had of him was on the NBA Summer League, a tournament where only the rookies, 2nd-year players, and free agents usually play. There we saw a bit of his talent and Sacramento went on to win the league (first time since 2014).
He is yet to play for the main team so far as played all 5 games for the Stockton Kings, where he is averaging 12.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks, playing an average of 24.2 minutes. Stockon has taken advantage from Neemias’ skill with a positive effect and they are 4-1, leading the West.
Can Neemias Get His NBA Debut Soon?
It is hard to guess when we can see the rookie have some minutes with the Sacramento Kings, but it should be a matter of time until they give him a chance.
The season for the main team has not been going spectacular (they sit outside the play-in zone). Check here the odds for the Kings in the NBA: https://edge.twinspires.com/nba/odds/
The longer the season goes, the more there will be the need to rotate players and provide opportunities for the new boys in town and Queta has been nothing far than amazing, especially on the defensive end where he has been posting really good numbers.
However, trade period opens soon and it is not impossible that Neemias gets involved. Would this be positive for Neemias?
Possibly, if he found a team that believed in his abilities and gave him more chances, but it’s more likely that the Kings keep him for at least a whole season earning experience in the G League.
What will happen next season is yet to know, but no doubt Neemias will get his breakthrough soon enough if he continues to show the numbers.