Donatas Motiejunas could be the forgotten young talent on Houston's roster. His toolset is redundant, he's stuck on a roster full of power forwards and nobody has conjured for him a befitting nickname. (On that note, "The Count of Motiejunas" is a nice play on words, but you won't see me yelling "PLAY THE COUNT!" at Toyota Center.)
The Rockets traded two first round picks and casual hunter Brad Miller to take Motiejunas with the 20th overall pick, so he's kind of a big deal to the front office. It also appears that Houston has more love for Motiejunas than does his own country.
Feast your eyes on this horribly translated article from a Lithuanian source:
After the match with the Czech national team of the Lithuanian national team strategist has announced that three basketball players will not participate in the European Cup in our country. Old World Cup decision strategists nerungtyniaus Gecevicius Martin, N. Motiejunas and Renaldas Seibutis.
"I am as a person and a coach was very, very difficult."
Wasn't kidding about the gawdawful translation.
"I have to say that consensus has been coaching and staff: a lot of discussion, argued. And how that would be a pity, said the interests of the team that we have to reduce the number of players that can grind the game quality. Thank you very much for their energy input."
(laughing hysterically over here, don't mind me)
"Perhaps Renaldo and Martin, it was easier to decide, because their positions were more difficult to compete. And with Motiejunas was particularly difficult choice. I want to say, that came after last year's N. vsaros increased. He has worked with a triple energy. If by efficiency, Donato would not even have lists of candidates, because everywhere it was full. However, I believe that the future Motiejunas Valanciunas will be the main pillars of the team. But today, we need a very experienced players."
Sure, it all sounds unfortunate (probably sounded better in Lithuanian, actually), but after looking over the roster and nearly choking on a Pop Tart reading what the coach had to say, I'll choose to reserve my panic instinct.
It's pretty simple. Donny's just out of his element.
The Lithuanian national team -- one of the best in the world, mind you -- is absolutely stacked with big bodies, at least compared to the rest of its European competition. In addition to studly stud-man Jonas Valanciunas, the Lithuanians boast Barcelona leading scorer Darjus Lavrinovic, NBA forward Darius Songaila, LKAL (Lithuanian League 2nd Division) MVP Paulius Jankunas and a host of other experienced options.
Motiejunas' time will surely come and the team's coach admits as much, but the future isn't always a priority for a national team's win-now approach to roster building. Keep in mind the following:
1. Houston is projecting Motiejunas' NBA potential; the American game is far different from the Euro game.
2. Jonas Valanciunas may be younger than Motiejunas, but he's also a much better player. It's why he went fifth overall and Donny went 20th.
3. If you haven't caught on, I'm calling Motiejunas "Donny" until something better comes along. Go watch "The Big Lebowski" if you think the nickname is stupid, and until you do, I think you're a little stupid.