Donatas Motiejunas is a second-year big man from Lithuania with loads of potential. With the Houston Rockets‘ roster now reshaped by various trades, Motiejunas could finally get his chance to shine this season, and he’ll likely have his playing time bumped up from last year’s 12 minutes per game average.
While the Rockets may continue to start Chandler Parsons as a small-ball power forward, Motiejunas should have plenty of chances to contribute as a key player off the bench. He’s a lefty seven-footer with good athleticism for his size and a useful off-the-dribble game he uses to attack the basket. Per NBA.com, he hit 62.6 percent of his attempts near the rim last season, a very solid mark. He also has pretty nifty touch down on the block and he converted on 64.3 percent of his post-up attempts last season. Granted, it was an extremely small sample size, with only 40 total post-up attempts, but it’s a very encouraging sign nonetheless.
His offensive game is very much in line with the Rockets’ general offensive philosophy. Last season, almost all of his shots were taken either at the rim or from beyond the arc. He has a good shooting stroke, but his performance from deep was sub-par. He was atrocious on wing threes and below average from the corners. The corner three is the area where he’ll need to show the most improvement, as it is a crucial part of Houston’s offense. With guys like Dwight Howard and Omer Asik taking up space inside, the ability to hit spot-up jumpers from the corner will be necessary to provide spacing for Houston’s pick-and-roll-centric game.
Defensively, he still has a long way to go, but he has the length and quickness to eventually become an impact player on that end. Playing with Asik and Howard will not only help make up for his mistakes in the near future, but it should also help accelerate his growth on that end of the floor.
Motiejunas flew under the radar as a rookie, but he could be poised for a breakout year on a dangerous Houston Rockets team.