The 2020-21 regular season is in the books for the Trail Blazers and the 2021 NBA Draft is quickly approaching. For the first time since 2016, the Blazers are set to enter draft night without a selection. However, that doesn’t mean that President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey will sit on the sidelines during the process.
Today’s profile looks at towering center Neemias Queta. During his three-year stint at Utah State, Queta controlled the action on the defensive end.
- Height: 7’0”
- WT: 248
- Wingspan: 7’4”
- Shooting Hand: Right
- Position: C
- Age: 21
- Projected draft range: 47-58
- PTS: 14.9 | Per 40: 19.9
- REB: 10.1 | Per 40: 13.5
- BLK: 3.3 | Per 40: 4.5
- AST: 2.7 | Per 40: 3.5
- FG%: 55.9
- FT%: 70.7
Armed with an NBA-ready frame, Queta possesses the skills to blossom into an imposing rim protector. Defensively, he dominates one-on-one matchups with his size and physicality. Queta routinely turned away opposing centers on the block. Outside of those individual matchups, he anchored Utah State’s defense for three seasons. By reading the action in front of him and moving his feet, the Portuguese pivot racked up blocks in the restricted area. On the glass, Queta puts his frame to work when securing rebounds at a high rate.
Offensively, Queta is a powerful dunker. In the paint, he leans on a reliable arsenal of traditional post moves to create opportunities. When extra pressure comes, Queta routinely makes the correct pass to an open teammate.
Queta benefited from a traditional center role at Utah State. Defensively, he was not asked to switch. It is unclear whether his athleticism will translate to aggressive pick-and-roll coverage. Offensively, Queta’s inefficient midrange attempts drag down his overall shooting percentages. As of now, his face-up game is underdeveloped. In the NBA, his overpowering style will lose its effectiveness against established centers. While Queta’s assist numbers are encouraging, he also committed 2.4 turnovers per game. That ratio must improve if he hopes to earn meaningful minutes at the next level.
Thanks to his work on the defensive end, Queta bookended his Utah State career with Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Year awards. Last season, the Aggies finished with a solid 20-9 record. In postseason play, Queta recorded an eye-popping nine blocks against Colorado State in the MWC Conference Tournament. In the NCAA tournament, Utah State was bounced by Texas Tech in the first round.
Queta is on a short list of projected second-round picks that could earn spot minutes as a rookie. Buoyed by his size and work in the post, Queta could be called upon as a rebounding and defensive specialist. That said, he must adjust to how fouls are called in the NBA. His aggressive style near the restricted area could put him in foul trouble early and often.
Offensively, Queta’s paint-dominate style lowers his ceiling. If he can adjust to passing out of short rolls and add touch to his jump shot, Queta could make the GM that selects him look like a genius.
Jusuf Nurkic’s future in Portland beyond this season is far from determined. Queta offers a useful defensive skillset in spot minutes in the immediate future and he has the upside to develop into a rim-running starting center moving forward. At the most basic level, Queta is an impactful defender and a willing passer on the offensive end. That combination could make him an ideal target for the Blazers if he slides into the late stages of the second round.