Willy Hernangomez showing he’s more than just a backup for Spain

Spain's Willy Hernangomez (Photo by OLIVER BEHRENDT/AFP via Getty Images)
Spain's Willy Hernangomez (Photo by OLIVER BEHRENDT/AFP via Getty Images) /

For the two seasons Willy Hernangomez has played for the New Orleans Pelicans, he’s been one of the most reliable backup centers in the league.

He’s the perfect third center, as he’s a great teammate, always plays hard and is always ready when called upon. Willy Hernangomez would sometimes go several games without stepping on the floor, only to be called upon for a certain matchup or to fill in for an injury.

He’s a true professional who stays ready, putting up solid numbers of 9.1 points and 6.8 rebounds even though he was only playing 18 minutes per game in the 50 games he appeared in last season.

It always made you wonder what he might be able to do if he had a more consistent role or got more minutes, as his Per-36 numbers of 19.4 points and 14.5 rebounds per game were eye-opening even though there is little chance he ever gets those kind of minutes.

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But he’s doing plenty with the ones he’s given, especially for Spain in the FIBA Eurobasket, as he has led his country to the semi-finals and is putting up big numbers.

New Orleans Pelicans: Willy Hernangomez in the FIBA Eurobasket

Hernangomez is one of several Pelicans who have been participating in Eurobasket this summer, including Jonas Valanciunas, as well as Jose Alvarado, who was playing well for Puerto Rico before stepping away to focus on the upcoming season in New Orleans.

Second-round pick Karlo Matkovic has also had some good games for Croatia, but none of them have been as good as Willy.

Hernangomez has led Spain to their 11th-straight Eurobasket semi-finals, averaging 17.9 points and seven rebounds in just over 21 minutes per game, once again showing that he can make a big impact in limited minutes.

He poured in 27 points and added five boards in Spain’s big win over Finland and will try to keep it going tomorrow against a German team that features NBA players Franz Wagner, Daniel Thies and  Dennis Schroder.

Willy has been helped by his brother Juancho, who is fresh off his starring role in an Adam Sandler movie and  third on the team in scoring with 12.9 points per game in the tournament so far.

Willy Hernangomez is making a case for himself to be more than just a 3rd center or a “break glass in case of emergency” backup, as he is putting up big numbers against top European competition.

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