Two months ago in December I took the trip all around the Lithuania during which I saw live and evaluated almost all the best prospects in the country. Unfortunately Rytas vs Dzukija game was postponed due to illnesses of Dzukija based team. However Adidas Next Generation Tournament coincided luckily with LKL schedule so all the scouts could attend either Rytas and Dzukija games not far away from Kaunas on Friday and Sunday respectively.
DZUKIJA vs ZALGIRIS
MATAS JOGELA – Unfortunately second time in a row I could not catch Matas game live while in Lithuania. He is injured again, could not participate against the team he is loaned from and his health seems somewhat a red flag in general.
Jogela stands at good 6’6 for a swingman, moves fluidly and possess ok athleticism. However his frame is a bit frail and may never bear enough bulk. From body type he kinda reminds poor European version of younger Zach Lavine. His shooting potential and pull up ability is another thing in common with Bulls player but so far Matas converted only 10 from 47 threes so far in Dzukija (21.3 %). Moreover he is still not impressing as secondary ball handler. He looks passive in PnR situations, can get hedged away and is more of a simple ball relocator at this point but deserves extra credit for cutting, transition game, rebounding and defense. He can potentially check opponents on 1,2 and 3 positions however Small Forwards are often extremely physical which limits his impact and he needs to work on fundamentals to fully utilize potential on this end of the floor.
Overall Matas is a wing player who intrigues thanks to shooting, size and some defensive potential but he is far from elite in any aspect and doesn’t really offer more than American players on his position. Obviously he can have good career in Europe but still needs time to improve and mature. Not sure about consistent playing time for Zalgiris in few years but league like lower to mid ACB level may be achievable in his peak.
NEVEZIS vs RYTAS
DEIVIDAS SIRVYDIS – Sirvydis had one of the worst games during entire the season. There are some extenuating circumstances like playing extremely important battle for Eurocup promotion against Monaco just two days before but he clearly didn’t help himself with more than 15 NBA scouts in attendance.
Deividas hit small shooting slump lately as he made just 4 from last 20 threes in LKL but it’s quite obvious that’s just a temporary issue. His shooter mentality is really good and he doesn’t overly lose confidence after unsuccesful attempts. Stroke barely hits the rim on warmup, seems really projectable and is the best among all Europeans in that class. Most of the time Sirvydis settles in corners and waits until the ball is kicked out to him to immediately fire it up from distance and punish defensive rotation. However he is really ready to make other kind of plays for someone who is not constantly involved in offense. He can move the ball with good vision, has some knack for catch and go plays as his shot opens a lot in that regard. Also can be easily put into PnR situations to create either for himself and others given his passing lanes, pace shifting and pull up ability. So basically besides being deadly accurate from behind the arc he is also high IQ guy who presents a lot of savviness, has almost maximal positional size and functions flawless within team system.
Now let’s move to the downsides. First of all he lacks physicality badly and it hurts him on both ends. He is not capable of making athletic finishes. His fine without above average explosiveness thanks to shooting, fluidity, length of stride and some flair in terms of attacking closeouts but has no bounce, hangtime or ability to withstand the contact in order to finish plays in the crowded paint. I didn’t notice him developing runners yet. Often he just stops, turns around and make short jump shot over defender. His lacks of explosive athleticism and strength doesn’t allow him to blow by defenders consistently and sometimes even navigating his man on the screens look problematic. We talk about still 18 years old player but his frame is really not too projectable and he won’t be able to take it to completely another level. At least he can really compensate with his step backs and shot creation in general. On the defensive end he can get good stance and slides his feet ok. His hand activity is solid but unfortunately he lacks extra length. On the other hand his foot speed is not great, he stays on screens and can get back down without much troubles by opponents. He was never really very good or willing defender on youth level and if we consider him for NBA standards I simply can’t picture him ever becoming above average or even acceptable defender on the highest level possible.
Anyway Sirvydis is almost surefire candidate to be drafted around 40 to 50 range but in my eyes he is more of a long term stash. Time will show if because of his profile he doesn’t actually become somewhat stationary (Vladimir Micov) kind of player who is more predispositioned to thrive on high European level. Comparing him to draft candidates last seasons we can mention Sergey Karasev who was picked much higher but had more scoring prowess. Also played even bigger role as teenager in Europe but at the end…failed in the league.