2020-21 Rewind: Late push puts Sirvydis on the radar with a big summer ahead for the Pistons
Chris Schwegler (NBAE/Getty)
Troy Weaver dubbed the four players he maneuvered to acquire in the 2020 draft the Pistons “core four.” But there were actually five rookies on the 2020-21 roster. The fifth Beatle was Deividas Sirvydis, who was hidden in plain sight for the vast majority of the NBA’s most unusual season but emerged in the final week to put himself on the radar, at least, for the future.
Sirvydis and Sekou Doumbouya, like Sirvydis a product of the 2019 NBA draft, are the only two Pistons remaining who preceded Weaver’s arrival as general manager in June 2020. A Lithunanian native with size and shooting ability, Sirvydis will have the opportunity to continue the momentum he generated late in his rookie season in Summer League and beyond as the Pistons have prioritized summer development for the 11 players 24 or younger who finished the season on their roster.
Here’s a look at Sirvydis’ 2020-21 season:
PROFILE: 6-foot-8 wing, 21 years old, 1 NBA season
2020-21 STATS: 2.1 points, 1.5 rebounds, 35.7 percent 3-point shooting
STATUS: Sirvydis has two years remaining on the reported three-year contract he signed with the Pistons in November 2020
A LOOK BACK: Sirvydis, a native of basketball-crazed Lithuania, is the son of a former professional player and veteran of several European domestic leagues, Virginijus Sirvydis, now a coach in the Lithuanian league. Sirvydis grew up in basketball and was put in the Lithuanian national pipeline at an early age, becoming the youngest player in the history of domestic league power Rytas Vilnius, eclipsing the previous record held by longtime NBA center Jonas Valinciunas. As a 17-year-old, Sirvydis led Rytas Vilnius’ U18 team to the Adidas Next Generation Tournament title and was named MVP. The Pistons used a chunk of their bounty of four second-round picks obtained from Cleveland in exchange for the 30th pick in the 2019 draft to trade up into the second round and take Sirvydis with the 37th pick. Sirvydis played for the Pistons in 2019 NBA Summer League but returned to Lithuania to play that season, one suspended by the COVID-19 pandemic. He then signed to play in Israel in May when that league resumed its season. Sirvydis averaged 4.5 points over four games for Hapoel Jerusalem. He signed with the Pistons last fall to begin his NBA career.
THE SEASON THAT WAS: Sirvydis would have spent the bulk of his rookie season playing in the G League had it been an option. Because the COVID-19 pandemic limited the G League season to a bubble that the Pistons’ affiliate, the Grand Rapids Drive, did not participate in, Sirvydis’ development was limited to practices, individual drill work and infrequent game appearances. The first time Sirvydis played more than five minutes in a game came in his 13th appearance on April 16 in the season’s 56th game. In the season’s final week, with the Pistons committing themselves to playing their most inexperienced players, Sirvydis logged his four longest stints of the season, logging 84 of his season total of 133 minutes. His best moment came in his last game, a loss to Denver, when Sirvydis scored 16 first-half points and hit 4 of 7 3-point shots before departing with a calf injury that prevented him from playing in the season finale.
A LOOK AHEAD: Sirvydis is one of just two Pistons – fellow 2019 draft choice Sekou Doumbouya is the other – not obtained since Troy Weaver was named Pistons general manager in June 2020. Weaver has stocked the roster with length and athleticism on the wing in short supply prior to his arrival. Saddiq Bey, Josh Jackson and Hamidou Diallo are all young players ahead of Sirvydis in the pecking order for playing time at the moment. But Sirvydis has the size and easy deep shooting range that gives him a legitimate shot at a meaningful NBA career. In his limited time, he also exhibited skills beyond a future as a 3-and-D specialist. Sirvydis flashed some playmaking ability off the dribble in the season’s final week and also had 17 rebounds over a three-game stretch before his calf injury. With the Motor City Cruise debuting in the fall, the Pistons will have a G League option housed under the same roof at the Pistons Performance Center. Sirvydis figures to get plenty of run with the Cruise in 2021-22 and how he performs there will go a long way toward determining his future with the Pistons.
MONEY QUOTE: “He’s a shooter. He can shoot the ball in time and space. The young man has an excellent basketball IQ. He’s done a good job in practice and he’s gotten in the weight room, gotten stronger. Not going to say when he’s going to be, but he’s going to be an NBA player at some point.” – Dwane Casey on Deividas Sirvydis late in the season