Herrmann has been on the NBA radar for some time now, and has been brought up as an NBA candidate repeatedly on DraftExpress. Although not having fully blossomed as expected when he first arrived in Europe, he has established himself as a valuable role player at the top level of the Old Continent, and his characteristics make his transition to that role in the NBA conceivable despite the more physically demanding requirements we find on the other side of the ocean.
When Walter Herrmann came from Argentina (after leading Atenas Cordoba to the domestic title) to Spain for the 2002/03 season to play for Fuenlabrada, he soon became the big sensation of the ACB League, averaging 22.3 points and 9.7 rebounds. In the summer of 2003, though, disaster struck for the Argentinean. A tragic car accident claimed the lives of his mother, sister and girlfriend. Signed by Unicaja for the next season, his play was disappointing. The psychological impact of the accident, playing for a new team with higher expectations and a more competitive roster were probably the reasons. In the summer of 2004, fate struck again when he lost his father, but he somehow managed to put that in the back of his mind for at least a little while to help out his national team in the preparations for the Olympics. He ended up playing a key role in a couple of games in Athens to help Argentina win the gold medal.
These last couple of seasons, Herrmann has shown a nice progression, finding his place in Unicaja, and becoming an important contributor on a team that won both the Spanish Cup (in 2005) and the Spanish ACB League (this last season). This last campaign, he averaged 10.5 points and 3 rebounds in less than 23 minutes per game in the ACB League, enjoying a starting status even if the prolific wing rotation of the team limited his minutes on the court.Strengths
There are little physical or athletic flaws in Walter Herrmann. At 6-8, he enjoys excellent size for a small forward, paired with a great wingspan and enormous hands that he uses to snatch the ball out of the air like a tennis ball. Besides, hes a strong player and rather explosive. All in all, his body is ready to step onto an NBA court.
Hermanns main strength rests in his slashing ability. He has a nice first step and some fairly average ball-handling skills (especially with his off hand) to start moving, while his athleticism (he has won several dunk contests in his career) and big hands do the rest. But as much as his penetration attempts, his perimeter shot has become another valuable asset to his game. On a team where other players (Jorge Garbajosa
, Marcus Brown
, Pepe Sánchez or Berni Rodríguez) take care of creating offense, he perfectly takes advantage of the spaces created from three-point land. He shows the shot of a forward, a static jumper with average mechanics, but he has delivered an impressive 43% accuracy this last season while taking more than 4 attempts per game.
Herrmann can also take advantage of his size and strength in the lane to score over smaller defenders, which he has usually done this season, filling the spaces created by the power forward Jorge Garbajosa
from the perimeter. Besides, Walter is a pretty intense player, like most Argentineans, showing great character on the court. Weaknesses
Herrmann is not too fundamentally sound; a combo forward that has evolved into a small forward. Theres something wild and rude in everything he does on the floor. You will hardly find the finesse game that is often expected from international players.
Skill-wise, he shows obvious flaws. His ball-handling is certainly improvable, his shot lacks any versatility to use it in off-the-dribble situations and there are question marks about his adaptability to the further NBA three-point line. His left hand is also almost useless and his court vision rather poor. Given that his basketball IQ is not off-the-charts, hes not always as effective as you would like him to be. Defensively, he might lack some lateral quickness that athletic wings might exploit, while hes not tremendously smart to make up for it.
Indeed, all these weaknesses have limited him to role player status at the top level in Europe, never being able to reach star status at this point in his career. Why sign him?
At the end of the day, to play in the NBA is a matter of talent, but also, and perhaps more importantly, about having the right tools. For Walter Herrmann, the transition between both competitions wouldnt be as tough as it is for other players with physical or athletic liabilities. Indeed his game might be more suited for the American competition. On the other hand, he has less skills and talent to translate, so its a matter of figuring out what would be the outcome. Personally, Im not particularly confident about his chances of succeeding in the NBA, although its hard to get a clear picture.
Herrmann has finished his three-year contract with Unicaja Málaga, and the Charlotte Bobcats are reportedly very close to reach an agreement with him. Otherwise, he will become an appreciated good in the European market, particularly given the scarcity of quality big wings the Old Continent is currently suffering from, as some of the best have already moved on to the NBA.