ESPN.com and the TrueHoop Network are ranking every NBA player — and counting them down on Twitter (@NBAonESPN), from number 500 to number 1. As the rankings are announced, you can also find them on ESPN.com. ESPN asked 104 experts to rate each player on a 0-10 scale.
Here is a player most people might not know about right now, but soon many Houston Rockets fans will be cheering his name. Donatas Motiejunas has yet to step foot on an NBA court, but he’s already made a huge impression on his coaches, teammates and even infamously called out Dwight Howard.
Motiejunas has had a lot of success overseas. He helped lead Prokom Gdynia to their ninth consecutive PLK title in a row. He’s won many MVP’s in different leagues and he’s still just 21 years old.
This offseason, Motiejunas made a huge impact in the NBA Summer League. In his first American game, he scored 25 points, grabbed 9 rebounds, dished out 2 assists and had two takeaways. He was a no show in his next game, but made up for it in his final two games. Motiejunas averaged 16.3 points and 7.8 rebounds in 25 minutes a game in four games in the Summer League.
Donatas is nothing short of a beast offensively. His arsenal is filled with multiple gadgets you don’t see from most seven footers. He has a very polished post game. He likes to back his man down and use his unstoppable Kareem-esque hook shot. He will also slash to the basket, which will be fun to watch with Jeremy Lin running the point. He can also shoot from downtown similar to Dirk Nowitzki. There is nothing Motiejunas can’t do offensively.
The only knocks against this young man are his strength and his defense. He’s very weak inside and gets pushed around by even the most average big men. He needs to beef up a lot before he can bang with the top big men in the league. I’m sure he’s in the weight room right now as your reading this. His defense has also been suspect since he became a professional basketball player just a few years ago. But he didn’t seem so bad in the Summer League. But then again, it’s the Summer League. I’m sure Kevin McHale will help him out greatly in that department. He has a lot of length and should no doubt average at least a block a game.
Personally I think Motiejunas has star potential. I think he’s the next big thing in Houston and will lock up one of the big man spots for the Rockets for years to come either this coming season or next. He may only be ranked number 324 by ESPN now, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him jump into the top 100 this time next year.