Donatas Motiejunas is not very well known around the league. The 20th pick of the 2011 NBA draft has only appeared in 18 games for the Houston Rockets this season, averaging 4.2 minutes per game in garbage time.
Last night Motiejunas scored 13 points, while adding three rebounds and two assists in 16 minutes of action. He once again showed that he is worthy of a regular spot in the rotation.
D-Mo has been sent to the D-League three times this season, only to be recalled by the Rockets within less than two weeks each time. In the D-League, Motiejunas has shown that he has the tools to be an exceptional offensive player, averaging 20.3 points, 9.7 rebounds and three assists, in 34.5 minutes of action.
While the competition in the D-League is obviously at a significantly lower level, the Lithuanian power forward has done enough to deserve a legitimate shot at cracking the Rockets’ rotation. He is a natural power forward, but since he is a legit 7-footer, he can handle some minutes at the center position as well.
D-Mo’s biggest flaws are on the defensive end, but as far as offense goes, he has the whole package. While he has shot the three-ball poorly in the D-League, he is still capable of stretching the floor all the way to the three-point line, which would complement a slasher like James Harden very well. Motiejunas is effective in the post, has a decent jumpshot and can run the floor very well for a 7-footer.
The Rockets are obviously in pursuit of a playoff spot, and with a 29-26 record the margin of error is very slim. Despite that, the team is still a project for the future and allowing talented rookies to develop should be a priority. While Marcus Morris and Patrick Patterson are both young and need space to develop, it is still a shame to see a talented player like Motiejunas remain on the bench without any kind of consistent minutes.
Motiejunas is definitely a capable player, but being on the bench is not going to help him develop into a solid NBA player. If he is given the opportunity, he could potentially make a name for himself in the league, rather than being known as the somewhat arrogant rookie who called out Dwight Howard in a post-draft press conference.
Vytis is an NBA columnist for RantSports. Follow him on Twitter here: @VytisLasaitis