The times they are a changin'. In an unanticipated move today, Kevin McHale has announced that there will be a new face in the starting line-up tomorrow night against the Bucks:
McHale says D-Mo is going to start tomorrow vs Bucks— Jason Friedman (@JasonCFriedman) February 26, 2013
During his first significant NBA minutes, Donatas Motiejūnas scored 13 points, grabbed three rebounds and two assists in a Harden-less match up with the Clippers two weeks ago. After the All-Star break (and especially after the Thomas Robinson Trade) Motiejūnas has seen an exponential spike in minutes. Saturday night in the nation's capital the Lithuanian rookie added 11 points and six rebounds during a career high 23 minutes. Daryl Morey caught Kevin McHale off guard when he shipped out Houston's primary two power forwards and while going small with Chandler at the four can work, it's not sustainable. Motiejūnas has shown some sound fundamentals and footwork during his recent NBA binge and any modern Rockets fan can speak to his offensive competence. I'm all for seeing what D-Mo can do as a starter until Thomas Robinson becomes more acclimated with our system. I'm actually ecstatic about it.
The following is a lengthy and largely unrelated anecdote, but perhaps it will help explain my irrational obsession with D-Mo. During my senior year in college (2010) my roommates and I spent the majority of our free time playing NBA 2K 2009 on the Xbox 360. The NBA 2K series is horribly addictive franchise to begin with but the three of us managed to take our addiction with this game to the next level. The game allows you to pick a team, manage your staff, develop rookies, scout players and prospects, draft, negotiate contracts and make trades. You can schedule practices, use hard earned points to emphasize development on particular players during the off-season and training camp, stagger rotation minutes, sign free agents, and even send players to the D-League. It's really quite an immersive world. The association sucked us in.
One of the most fun parts of the game was drafting. Since it would be illegal to include college players in a professional sporting game, we had to download user created draft classes for our off-season NBA drafts. It was then during a heated video game draft in 2010 that I first stumbled across the name Donatas Motiejunas. My roommates had a multitude of picks before mine that summer (due to some poor trades on my part) and picked off John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, and Evan Turner before I was able to make my selection late in the first round so I decided to take a flyer on Donatas Motiejunas: the seven foot, left handed big man from Lithuania. Through some error, or miracle, D-Mo's stats in that particular user created draft class were off the charts. He was the best mid-range and three-point shooting big man in the league and his speed and skill in the post made him the most effective virtual basketball player I had ever controlled. It wasn't long until Motiejunas had moved into my starting line up and emerged as my franchise player. Very few people today are familiar with the name Donatas Motiejunas but I am confident my two poor college roommates will never forget it. By the time we decided to end the league (we made it well beyond the year 2020) Motiejunas was a seven time MVP and had five rings playing for the Houston Rockets.
I won't sit here and pretend that I think Motiejūnas is likely to become one of those once in a generation type players, but I think I've heard of one guy who might:
From D-Mo Sat.: "My goal is to be the best I can possibly be. I want to develop some of my skills that no one has developed in their lives."— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) February 26, 2013
Buckle up, Rockets fans. This is going to be fun.