So I woke up from a nap around midway through the third quarter and turned on the game on my Ipad. Until my connection went out, sometime midway through the fourth, Donatas Motiejunas played the entire duration. In that time, he shined.
Motiejunas finished the game with 11 points (4-6 from the field) with 6 boards. During the cited stint, though, I recall the big man hitting two 3’s, driving the lane for two passes, and posting up inside several times. In essence, he showed every ability a big man can have aside from tearing down the rim with a tomahawk slam.
The 3’s are self explanatory. On the mentioned drives, as the ball was swung around, he caught and dribbled through the paint, making a skip pass to Omer Asik on two occasions. (Asik scored on one and the other time, was called for three seconds.) But what stood out most from Motiejunas were the postups. It wasn’t just that he’d post up when it was his number called – he’d regularly, almost on every play, aggressively try to post up his man deep inside the paint, off the ball, in hopes it would be swung around. This puts quite a great deal of pressure on the opposing defense when they already are needing to worry about Harden strong-side penetration.
You will recall that I was a big fan of Marcus Morris. With a shooting stroke and postup moves, he had a smooth skillset. The problem was that he just didn’t have a position. Morris was capable of all of the things Motiejunas can do, but he didn’t show that he could do them at the NBA level. Morris had a beautiful postup game, but was too small to post up against NBA power forwards. He was too slow to match up against NBA 3’s, as was the plan when he was drafted. Morris became relegated to a poor rebounding spot-up shooter. That’s probably why he’s gone.
Donatas grabbed six boards last night. I didn’t focus in much on his defense, though I do recall one possession where Emeka Okafor backed him in, faked him out of his shoes, but missed the point blank layup. For now, Motiejunas will need to be hidden next to Omer Asik.
It’s an encouraging start for Motiejunas but as I stated in a recent post, it takes so, so much to even make it in the NBA. Motiejunas has all the skills–that’s plain as day to the naked eye–but we’ll see if he can put it all together.