The information and opinions expressed about players referenced in this section are exclusively those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the Hornets organizations preferences for the June 24th Draft.
DRAFT PROFILE: DONATAS MOTIEJUNAS
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com
Vitals: 7-0, 215 lbs., center
Birthdate: Sept. 20, 1990
Stats: 9.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 0.3 bpg, 1.4 spg, .592 FG%, 72.1 FT%, 32.3 3-PT FG% (with Benetton Treviso in Italy)
To American basketball fans, Donatas Motiejunas is probably the least known of the elite prospects entering the 2010 NBA Draft. Thats because, in virtually every mock draft on the Internet, the wiry native of Lithuania (the same nation that produced Hornets backup Darius Songaila) is the only projected top-20 pick who did not play at a U.S. college in 2009-10. He spent last winter as a member of the popular Italian team Benetton Treviso.
Motiejunas is frequently described by draft experts as a new-age big man who is comfortable playing away from the basket, a 7-footer in the Dirk Nowitzki mold with the ability to drain three-pointers and handle the ball. With his still-developing, thin frame, Motiejunas is compared by DraftExpress.com to perimeter-minded centers such as Andrea Bargnani and Channing Frye.
He's a very skilled forward who has some Pau Gasol and Toni Kukoc in his game, wrote ESPN.coms Chad Ford. He is playing at a high level in Europe but needs to get stronger. It would be nice to draft him and stash him in Europe next season.
After scouting the player in Europe, DraftExpress.com also praised his skilled game: Motiejunas is quickly emerging as one of the most versatile big men in the Italian league. The place that shows up the most is on the perimeter, where Motiejunas is showing outstanding potential taking his man off the dribble in creative fashion, often spinning his way through the lane for some incredibly impressive finishes. Able to go left or right, Motiejunas is a nightmare for most big men to match up with at his size, as he possesses an excellent first step to go along with strong ball-handling skills and terrific body control maneuvering his way towards the basket.
Although scouts have come away impressed by his offensive exploits, Motiejunas is usually described as a project at the other end of the floor, with considerable room to improve. His lack of strength is a major issue, but so is his extremely poor balance, as you regularly see him being knocked to the ground in every game he plays in, DraftExpress.com commented. He gets pushed around by smaller players fairly often, giving up deep position in the post, and in turn easy baskets.
Given where Motiejunas is in his development, though, it seems reasonable to expect him to be able to add muscle and weight to his build, which should allow him to be much more effective defensively and rebounding-wise.
What we must keep in mind at all times is that Motiejunas is still only 19 years old, and has plenty of room to add enough strength to his very solid frame, DraftExpress.com wrote, midway through last season. This added bulk will help him compete much more effectively against most of the big men hell encounter in the NBA, but it may take some time for him to fill out.
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