While we’re sitting comfortably in our armchair GM’s armchairs, one of our youngsters, Deividas Sirvydis, is working his butt off in new 2020/2021 season. In fact, the draft and stash prospect has been so eager to ball again, that he almost played two seasons at the same time. Ok, the pandemic could play some role in this.
It all started in late September, when his Israeli club, Hapoel Jerusalem, begun finalizing its 2019/2020 run in Israeli Basketball League Cup. In first game of the campaign, Deividas was determined to hit the ground running (man, the kid is fast)… but he stumbled a little in the process. However, later in that game he was hitting on all cylinders, scoring most points (15) since we follow his development. Six days later his team started to finalize its 2019/2020 season in Basketball Champions League (second tier European competition). Dave again was there, but it wasn’t neither his nor his team night. Dave scored only 3 points, his team lost by 27 points and was send packing.
Then it was even worse. In October, planned start of new season in Israel Basketball Super League was canceled due to pandemic. So Israeli clubs started to play in Balkan League (a competition for weaker teams from the region of Mediterranean Sea). But Deividas wasn’t even invited. He also didn’t play in the quarterfinal of Israeli Basketball League Cup, which his team lost, and in the first game of Israel Basketball Super League, which Hapoel started right away from fourth matchday. He played in two games of new edition of Basketball Champions League, but it was rather for short stints (less than 20 minutes combined), during which he managed to score only 1 point.
In these messy circumstances, Dave’s game was messed up on both ends. Good defensive plays like this on ball, off ball and transition D as well as these good closeouts, stops down low and work on defensive glass, were interwoven by these instances of bad footwork, lost battles underneath the basket and such mistakes. We can live with the mistakes – Dave is still only 20yo and is now playing in conditions that might undermine player’s focus to some extent – and defense down low – it’s not his domain, so if he can win something there even occasionally it will be a plus, and, as we saw, he did. But the footwork is worrisome. I thought that being so inelastic is far behind him. Now it turns out that he still must fight that down. May it be one step backward and two forward.
Deividas’ offense was in mess a little less but it was nevertheless. We like these triples with quite quick trigger, these transition plays and these drives (in first one he is called for a charge, but I challenge this call). Likewise, we like this hustle on o-board, this movement without the ball, this solid dribble and this manifestation of resilience in which, despite being denied a pass, Dave stays in the play and helps regain possession for his team. They all indicate that our Lithuanian player’s offensive arsenal becomes firmer. But we want him to avoid this kind of mistakes and we want him to be more solid with his offhand than this.
To add fuel to this messy fire, Hapoel added two wings (both more experienced, 25yo players) with whom Deividas now needs to fight for playing time. One of them, Illinois alum, Malcolm Hill, is out of his reach at present. But the second one, member of Israeli national team, Adam Ariel, is not. However, at the moment, Ariel is winning. As Joe D, who follows closely the story, said, we knew this was going to happen and now it is all about our Dave responding to the challenge. So the next thing for us to seek in his development is him putting his game again in order and winning back for his minutes against more experience teammate(s).