Donatas Motiejunas remains unsigned in free agency though a qualifying offer has been extended from the Houston Rockets. While fans await his signing let’s take a look back at his best efforts in 2015-16.
Four seasons into Donatas Motiejunas professional career and he’s already experienced major ups and downs. In his rookie season he played in 44 games and returned the next year to post similar numbers in 62 games. Year three D-Mo burst through as he was one of the few players able to stay healthy until game 71. His production doubled in almost every category as he became the prototypical stretch four the club desired.
But when he experienced a back injury it led to surgery and the process of recovery took far longer than expected. With D-Mo struggling to get back on the court GM Daryl Morey sent him to the Detroit Pistons in a trade deadline deal.
Then the deal was rescinded by Stan Van Gundy citing issues with Motiejunas back. Though many felt the deal was cancelled more so because SVG had picked up Tobias Harris filling Detroit’s needs at power forward.
Once back with Houston Motiejunas got on the court and began the process of returning to the type of production the Rockets came to expect prior to his injury.
In all D-Mo played in 37 games, 14 in December and once he returned to the court February 29th he missed only one game through to season end. In all he scored in double digits 8 times and grabbed between 4-9 rebounds 8 times. Where he regressed was in his shooting dropping from 36.8% to 28.1% from deep and 50.4% to 43.9% from the field. He improved in the playoffs shooting 44.4% from deep which does point to his improvement as he worked back into condition.
Motiejunas highest scoring game came versus the Denver Nuggets early in the season whenhe scored 19 points.
His overall best game was arguably versus the Minnesota Timberwolves when he scored 17 points, collecting 9 rebounds (3 offensive rebounds), dished one assist, had a steal and blocked 2 shots.
He continued to improve through the post season with his best game coming in the Game 3 win versus Golden State. In that game he scored a double-double of 14 points and 13 rebounds (5 offensive boards) and also had 2 assists, 2 steals and a block.
This summer Motiejunas is dedicated to improving his core strength in an effort to avoid any further back injuries. As H-Town await the inking of his deal it makes sense upper management would want to finalize this soon. At 7′.0″ D-Mo offers the versatility to play both power the forward and center position. Further his ability to stretch the floor is a commodity one would assume Mike D’Antoni will be excited to work with.
While many teams look to go small the option of playing D-Mo with Ryan Anderson offers a unique ability to have both bigs capable of hitting from deep.
SCS will update as free agency news develops. For now if you’re a fan who wants to follow free agency closely consider checking out my Free Agency Profiles for all 30 teams:
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