Willy's moment

With the contract extension for three more years, the Madrid center will have the opportunity to settle in the Pelicans, where he has gone from less to more.


Willy Hernangómez landed hard in the NBA. He was chosen in the 35th position in the Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers and, immediately, the New York Knicks took over his rights. A year later, in 2016, the landing arrived. Not just any one. At Madison and with the door open to grow, as he did. After averaging 18.2 points and 7 rebounds in 18.4 minutes, he was chosen to be the best rookie quintet of the season. With him, Malcolm Brogdon, Dario Saric, Joel Embiid and Buddy Hield. A difficult start to improve which, however, soon turned into a mirage. The prominence declined drastically and, without finishing the season, it came to the Hornets. He was leaving the Big Apple to assert himself in Charlotte, to show that his debut course could have continuity. It could not be. In his best season in the Michael Jordan franchise, he was 7.3 + 5.4 in 14 minutes. From his 22 starts in his first year, now, he has added 17 in total; but something may change.

New Orleans presented itself as a new opportunity and, although it resisted, it ended up being one. It was a challenge and, at the same time, a scenario with a lot of potential. Next to Zion Williamson, one of the players who attracts the most attention in the NBA, but with strong competition in his position. Zion himself, in small quintets, could even block his way. In the natural battle, Steven Adams and Jaxson Hayes. The first was called to ownership; the second, for its part, was the young bet of the franchise for the position, something that is always synonymous with minutes. The planned plan was the one that was given, but, as (almost) always, the one who waits ends up finding his hole. The physical problems of the New Zealander, added to a Hayes who did not take advantage of his minutes, made the presence of Willy increase on the track without ceasing. In the first 18 games of the campaign, he only had minutes in three; in the last 10, it averaged 25.9 minutes.

A radical change that can find continuity. For now, it does. Willy has signed three more seasons with the franchise, with a fully guaranteed contract. For the next, his sixth in the land of opportunities (pun intended), the doors are wide open. The trend is positive and, in addition, the context of the team pushes the Madrilenian to establish himself as a solid second pivot in the rotation. At the beginning, Jonas Valanciunas will leave, newcomer in exchange for Adams himself, and, after him, the little Hernangómez would go. Hayes, who already lost ground during the course of last season, has also had a difficult summer in the extra-sports field, being hospitalized after a serious incident with the police.

With all this, the Spanish international will have the opportunity to go further in a franchise that needs the same. With Zion as the epicenter, the team wants to establish itself in the aristocracy of the league, reaching a playoffs that escape. And Willy is prepared, mentally and sportingly. At the Tokyo Olympics, he averaged 6.5 points and 4.5 rebounds in 12.1 minutes, being one of the main references in his periods on the track. In the Pelicans, in that from less to more exciting, he reached 7.8 + 7.1 which is his best record in terms of rebounds and his second best mark in terms of points. He has improved in defense and even Tomas Satoransky, a teammate in Seville and now in New Orleans, is impressed with the physical level of the Madrilenian. "The moment is good and the experience in the Pelicans too. In the end it is a question of work, of waiting for your opportunity and meanwhile continue working every day. Now I am at that moment to play a lot of minutes, but if the situation of playing returns less you have to continue with the same mentality, "he said in March for AS. You know what you want, you know how to get there, and next season could be when.

Photos from as.com
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