Saturday, August 23, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Could Motiejunas be the 76ers choice at No. 16?

The 76ers hosted another pre-draft workout this morning at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. And this one, unlike all the other previous ones, was a solo workout. The prospect was 7-foot power forward Donatas Motiejunas from Lithuania.

Could Motiejunas be the 76ers choice at No. 16?

The 76ers hosted another pre-draft workout this morning at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. And this one, unlike all the other previous ones, was a solo workout. The prospect was 7-foot power forward Donatas Motiejunas from Lithuania. It sounds like Motiejunas was only willing to workout solo. He flew to the states from the Adidas camp in Treviso, Italy and is working out for four NBA teams: he worked out already with the Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs, worked out today for the Sixers, and will work out for the New York Knicks.

We've written on here previously about Motiejunas, including him on the list of eight prospects that the Sixers likely have targeted as their potential draft picks. If you didn't read that post, you can find it here: Deep Sixer. Before Motiejunas worked out today, it was difficult to assess exactly where the Sixers might have him on their draft board. It's still difficult, but we got the sense that he's probably higher on the team's list than we might have thought last week. If he is indeed a big man they'd like to snag, that gives them two potential big men: Nikola Vucevic and Motiejunas. What are the chances at least one is on the board when the Sixers draft at No. 16? Pretty likely. Right now, Motiejunas is expected to go somewhere in the 14-22 range, nearly identical to Vucevic's projection. 

Here's the update on this guy: he's a legitimate 7-feet. Sixers director of player personnel Courtney Witte said that since December (when Witte saw him play in Europe), Motiejunas has put on about 8 or 9 kilos (roughly 20 pounds), putting him at about 240 pounds right now. Although we didn't watch the workout, we did see Motiejunas afterward and he looked much more filled out than I'd expected. He's not long and lanky and in need of bulk -- he had a legitimate NBA body. The Sixers met with Motiejunas last week while they were in Treviso and attended a workout of his over there, as well. So they're putting some hours and manpower into the 20 year old.

The pros to Motiejunas' game: by all accounts he's talkative and intense while he's on the court. He's good with both hands, he's a very good passer. He's got a nice jumper. He's a lefty. He has NBA athleticism and an NBA body and what Witte called "NBA creativity". The cons: his rebounding in Italy's Serie A was suspect (4.4 per game over 25.7 minutes), his footwork and jumper are inconsistent, especially from NBA range, and he's a power forward not a traditional center. Witte said the Sixers addressed the lack of rebounding and that Motiejunas' answers made sense. Witte also said that the system in which he was playing in Italy did not "lend itself" to rebounding and that Motiejunas' role as a creator in that system has probably had a negative impact on his draft projection.

More coverage
 
Irving appears a safe No. 1
 
Narducci's NBA Mock Draft
 
Sixers look at five prospects
 
Special section: 2011 NBA Draft preview

Motiejunas did not talk after the workout. Witte relayed that Montiejunas wanted to "let his game do the talking," which of course is of little help because no one actually watched the workout.

"This was a workout where he just felt he wanted to let his game do the talking," Witte said. "His English is good. He’s really an intense focus guy. It was nothing against anything here, he just let me do the talking and he wanted to concentrate on the game."

Witte said the Sixers felt "privileged" to be one of four NBA teams that Motiejunas would work out for, even if it was under the circumstances of one-on-none.

"He sees himself in a few years as maybe being able to play as a five," Witte said. "Right now, he’s obviously a four. He has a stretch-four mentality. He can go to the low post ... We see him as a power forward. He sees himself as a power forward that eventually will be able to play more as a center."

The Sixers will host what is expected to be their final pre-draft workout tomorrow (Tuesday) at PCOM. If you want to check out the video of Witte talking about Motiejunas, that should be embedded below. To follow on Twitter, click here: Deep Sixer.

--Kate


Each week, Kate will check in from the road and answer fan questions about the Sixers. Click here to ask Kate a question or e-mail her at kfagan@phillynews.com.

About this blog

Keith Pompey is in his first season covering the Sixers for The Inquirer after covering the Temple men’s basketball team for the past three years and Temple football the past two seasons.

Marc Narducci has served in a variety of roles with the Inquirer since beginning in 1983. He has covered the 76ers as a backup and a beat writer. In addition, Narducci has covered everything from the Super Bowl to the World Series and a lot in between.

Narducci also has a true passion for South Jersey scholastic sports, which he has covered for many years.

Keith Pompey Inquirer Staff Writer
Marc Narducci Inquirer Columnist
Latest Videos:
Also on Philly.com:
Stay Connected
Topics: