The Rockets Daily – September 13, 2013

The Trouble With D-Mo – Despite the arrival of Jeremy Lin, James Harden and Dwight Howard, Donatas Motiejunas remains one of the most fascinating members of the Houston Rockets in my eyes. From his mind-bending eagle tattoo explanation to his smack talk about Dwight Howard, Motiejunas has been a source of intrigue ever since his arrival.

As I did with Chandler Parsons several days ago, I’ve been looking for a way to succinctly sum up Motiejunas’ game. Hop in, and take a ride with me through his stat sheet. The first and biggest question mark about D-Mo is his defense, and the numbers reinforce the idea that he needs improvement. His Defensive Rating is 109 points given up per 100 possessions, which is a far cry from Omer Asik (103) or even Greg Smith (105). His on/off court numbers also show opponents scoring more whenever he is on the floor. None of this should come as a surprise to anyone.

What is surprising is how his apparent skills don’t always translate into production on the offensive end. Motiejunas displayed some dazzling interior passing last year, yet he assisted on just 9.5 percent of his teammates’ baskets–a decent number, but far below elite passing bigs like Marc Gasol or Joakim Noah.

The big red flag for D-Mo is his shooting. Like with his passing, his shooting ability would seem to pass the eye test. I recall watching one interview with a teammate or coach (I think it was Kelvin Sampson) last season in which you could see Motiejunas draining corner threes in the background as easily as tossing paper wads into a trash bin. Yet he only shot 28.9 percent on threes when the bright lights were on. He only shot 30.6 percent on jump shots, period. He may be able to solve this problem by limiting his attempts to the corners, especially the left side, where he was much more effective.

So here’s the trouble with D-Mo: His production doesn’t live up to his skill. Motiejunas earned a spot in the rotation last year through hard work during practice, but lost it by fading during games. This year, he gets another chance to prove himself.

The one area in which the big Lithuanian is undeniably a force is in his post play. He shot 73.7 percent at the rim last year–an otherworldly number that bests the likes of Dwight Howard and Greg Smith–mostly due to his mesmerizing post moves. Unfortunately for D-Mo, Terrence Jones shot an even more impressive 74.4 percent at the rim. However, no big man on Houston’s roster can match D-Mo’s ability to get his own shot down low. If he can bring defense and shooting to match his offensive footwork, then watch out.

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Total comments: 10
  • Stephen says 1 YEAR ago

    European and College players struggle with the NBA 3pt line their first season.
    Dirk Nowitzki shot .206 from 3pt land his rookie season. .206!

    I believe Alituro is right in that Motie was thinking too much on the court last season. When he got the ball and just shot it he was pretty good. But when he got it and hesitated that little bit,you could almost see the gears grinding,should I shoot,pass or drive? and when he'd then shoot he rushed his shot and usually missed.

  • Alituro says 1 YEAR ago

    I agree D-Mo has the skill.......however I thought his drop off last year was more due to his conditioning than pressure. he was great in the beginning, but as the minutes increased his production fell. I'm excited to see him bulk up because it addresses what I think was his weakness....no conditioning. I agree also he has to work better on defense, but this to should improve with conditioning. fact is this guy was not in NBA shape last year...........I don't think that will be the case this year though

    Good point about his conditioning too, probably a combo of it all... Man lay off Lin already we get it :rolleyes: even though I do agree..

    Nice to see D-mo bulking up..

  • NorEastern says 1 YEAR ago

    Perhaps the most interesting basketball at this time is watching D-Mo live in Euroleague. Lithuania currently has a 3-1 record in round 2 and are favorites to advance. D-Mo has been getting spotty minutes (Lithuania's roster has 6 power forwards and centers out of 12 spots), but it is obvious his defensive awareness is improving. He obviously has been spending all his spare time in the gym. His arms are as big as a normal mans legs. Check out this picture:
    http://www.basketnews.lt/paveikslelis-71906-bg2.jpg
    And after a put back dunk he led a one person fast break off the rebound:

    His 3 point shot is still not there, but he never misses by much. He obviously has the range. It is something wrong with his mechanics or confidence. I am optimistic he will work things out.

  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago

    A big part was his confidence. He just had the face that he was a boy among men, hopefully that's different now.

    I disagree. D-Mo doesn't have confidence problems.......that's Lin's arena

  • Buckko says 1 YEAR ago

    I agree D-Mo has the skill.......however I thought his drop off last year was more due to his conditioning than pressure. he was great in the beginning, but as the minutes increased his production fell. I'm excited to see him bulk up because it addresses what I think was his weakness....no conditioning. I agree also he has to work better on defense, but this to should improve with conditioning. fact is this guy was not in NBA shape last year...........I don't think that will be the case this year though

    A big part was his confidence. He just had the face that he was a boy among men, hopefully that's different now.

  • rockets best fan says 1 YEAR ago

    He definitely seems to have the skills to be exactly what the doctor ordered at our 4 spot. I think his poor showing last year was due to the tremendous amount of pressure coming from competing for the spot among what? 5 or 6 guys when you consider McHale was inserting Delfino and Parsons at the position often. He seemed to be anxious to dazzle the coaching staff, forcing his hand, rather than letting the game come to him and playing within the natural flow. Hopefully with the field wheedled down some he can be more relaxed and therefore show the necessary improvement to possibly start. I fully expect an emergence of either he or Jones this season into serviceable forwards.

    I agree D-Mo has the skill.......however I thought his drop off last year was more due to his conditioning than pressure. he was great in the beginning, but as the minutes increased his production fell. I'm excited to see him bulk up because it addresses what I think was his weakness....no conditioning. I agree also he has to work better on defense, but this to should improve with conditioning. fact is this guy was not in NBA shape last year...........I don't think that will be the case this year though

  • Alituro says 1 YEAR ago

    He definitely seems to have the skills to be exactly what the doctor ordered at our 4 spot. I think his poor showing last year was due to the tremendous amount of pressure coming from competing for the spot among what? 5 or 6 guys when you consider McHale was inserting Delfino and Parsons at the position often. He seemed to be anxious to dazzle the coaching staff, forcing his hand, rather than letting the game come to him and playing within the natural flow. Hopefully with the field wheedled down some he can be more relaxed and therefore show the necessary improvement to possibly start. I fully expect an emergence of either he or Jones this season into serviceable forwards.

  • NorEastern says 1 YEAR ago

    He only shot 30.6 percent on jump shots, period.
    From 82games.com
    tjw0kAt.jpg
    40% is actually the league average on jump shots.


    I accidently hit the reply button before I was ready to post and then could not edit quick enough.

    From stats.nba.com

    A0IKl3R.jpg

    What the shot chart shows is an amazingly efficient old school power forward. However D-Mo is much more than that. He actually should develop into a 35+% 3 point shooter. The guy can shoot, he just is not doing it in games yet. Hopefully he will develop in the near future.

    Much more worrysome is defense. However, having watched all of his Euroleague games this summer I believe he is increasing his awareness on defense. Time will tell.

    I have been saying for 4 months that if either Jones or D-Mo can develop into a 35+% 3 point chart and a somewhat average defense the Rockets should be just fine.

  • NorEastern says 1 YEAR ago

    He only shot 30.6 percent on jump shots, period.

    From 82games.com
    tjw0kAt.jpg

    40% is actually the league average on jump shots.

  • timetodienow1234567 says 1 YEAR ago I think anybody who watched DMo play last year saw a waste of minutes but that he had some potential. Lets hope he can reach it.