BY: RAMZY KAWAJA
Rockets fans got an extended look at the newly acquired draftees who may or may not be in the lineup at the start of the regular season. But the rooters of Red Nation have to ignore that fact for the time being and enjoy what Daryl Morey and the scout team have brought into the organization.
Nobody stood out more than the Lithuanian sensation known as Donatas Motiejunas. What a debut. The entire repitoire was on display last night. We saw the drop-step bunny hook from both sides, he ran the floor well, showed exceptional athleticism, was active on the glass and knocked down 3-pointers. The extra year overseas, where he carried Prokom Gdynia to it’s ninth consecutive Polish League title, really helped D-Mo polish his skills and work on his reboounding. On December 7, 2011, he grabbed a career-high 21 rebounds (18 defensively) setting a Euroleague record.
Of course, his 222 lb frame won’t help Donatas keep the average NBA big out of the box, but his ability to stretch the court with his dead-eye shooting from distance will certainly be a problem for his opponents.
When asked in an interview after the game if the transition from European ball to last night’s contest was difficult, D-Mo seemed amused at the question and replied, ” No. These are just rookies. I have much harder time over there. The fans here know me as a guy who talks but I want to show them it’s not just talk. ” It’s apparent that the youngster is coached up and has been playing professionally since the age of 17. In 2007-2008, Donatas joined the Arvydas Sabonis School of Kaunas where he shined on the youth team. In his pro debut, he scored 15 points in 22 minutes. The kid’s popularity grew heavily in Lithuania and was given the nickname “Donce.” (Don-Tzeh)
Sure, it’s just one game in the NBA’s Summer League, but it’s certainly an encouraging sign to see him take it so seriously. D-Mo played like he had something to prove and showed the most energy in a laid-back exhibition where rookies are just supposed to get their feet wet in pro ball. While the others were getting a feel, the seven-footer was feeling it. Donatas hit all of his threes and only missed two shots the entire game scoring 25 points and grabbing 9 boards. Go ahead and smile, Red Nation. The future is bright.