When you think of 7'0 big men out of Lithuania who can hold their own in the post and equally step outside and hit the three, the first name to that comes to mind is Hall-of-Famer Arvydas Sabonis, who remains an icon in Portland Trail Blazers and NBA history.
The Houston Rockets should now consider themselves fortunate to have a rookie chiseled in a similar mold with Donatas Motiejunas.
If you've paid close enough attention to the Las Vegas Summer League, then you're familiar with Motiejunas' game - an effortless lefty or righty low post game combined with the ability to hit from the perimeter. And while the 21-year old from Kaunas, Lithuania has yet to develop the sick passing skills of Sabonis, when the 2012-2013 has come and gone Motiejunas will stand among the best first year players in the NBA.
No doubt about it.
The 20th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft posses a certain swagger about himself. It's not to be confused with a crowned up ego or arrogance by any means. Instead, Motiejunas displays a confidence that some young guys lack but every player in this league needs, particularly when making the overseas jump to the NBA.
"If you're scared of wolves, don't go in the woods, "Motiejunas said in an interview with Rockets.com when asked about the transition into playing against NBA caliber of players in Las Vegas.
"It's just basketball...It's nothing new. This is how I have to play. This is the thing: either they will kick my (butt) or I will kick their (butt). That's every game and every competition. If you're scared to be here, then sit on the bench."
In his summer league debut against the Toronto Raptors, Motiejunas went for 25 points (11/13 FG) and grabbed nine rebounds. He then turned around and put up 19 points (7/11 FG, 5/6 FT) and 6 rebounds in 25 minutes versus the Sacramento Kings this past week.
Although he struggled when Houston faced Washington (0-5, 1 point in 22 minutes), he messed around and got a double-double against Portland: 20 points, 12 rebounds and went 10/16 from the field.
In four games played, Motiejunas is averaging 16.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game while shooting 62% from the field.
"I hope I can keep playing like this. I want to be useful to this team and show coach I will be ready to play. It's pretty much the same (the style of basketball). I know the style they play. This is honestly not any different from the game I play", added Motiejunas, who played last season in Poland with Prokom Gdynia.
"When I'm open I'm shooting. People are shocked that I shoot like that, but when I'm free I am shooting."
So how will Houston and head coach Kevin McHale utilize the power forward/center heading into next season?
When the Rockets used their amnesty clause on scrappy forward Luis Scola, they did so knowing a youth movement is upon them and Motiejunas is envisioned as being the one to help fill Scola's void.
After Houston drafted him last season and stashed him in Europe (or Poland to be more specific), their developmental game plan centered on Motiejunas working on doing the dirty work -- rebounding, getting after loose balls and all out effort and hustle. They already knew he could shoot and be a low post presence. But will he be an all-everything integral part of the Rockets' system regardless if he starts or comes off of the bench?
This upcoming season will be very telling for Donatas Motiejunas and it doesn't appear he will disappoint.
He hasn't come all of this way to not go into the woods.