Editor’s note: This piece originally ran on Dec. 2
For some, he might be a bastard of nepotistic machinations. For others, he is a skinny white shadow. One who managed to score only nine points in four Summer League games. But who really is Deividas Sirvydis? Well, he’s a young player very determined to meet challenges – that’s the most conspicuous thing we could learn about him during last season. What else? A Couple of things.
Let’s start with some accolades. In 2018, an 18-year-old Deividas became the MVP of Euroleague Basketball Next Generation Tournament. Heard of Luka Dončić, Dario Šarić, Donatas Motiejūnas? Those are some previous winners of the award. However, Deividas is a player of his own kind.
He’s no superhero, but he has the makings of a productive sidekick
From the perspective of anthropological metrics, Deividas is close to Dončić. At 6-foot-8, he’s a little taller than the Slovenian and lighter as he weighs 203 pounds (though during last season he reportedly gained around 15 pounds). Both Sirvydis and Dončić have slightly negative wingspans. Nevertheless, at least at this stage of his adult career, Dave doesn’t show the inclination to be the dominant on-ball player Dončić is. If he needs to handle the ball more, he relies on safe, back-to-the basket moves. So his place is more on the wing.
Protecting the ball
Here, first of all, he shows to be a potential versatile 3-point threat. As we can see from these catch-and-shoot triples, he has quite a quick trigger.
3 off a screen
Deividas can also make treys off movement.
Off the Dribble 3
And he shows the ability to shoot the three ball off the dribble (just not hitting it yet).
The percentages don’t look pretty, but we need to take into account that last (prolonged) season Dave either was used to stand in the corners (when he played for Rytas Vilnous) or didn’t get consistent minutes (when he played for Hapoel Jerusalem). Two seasons ago, when he got some stint in the second-tier Lithuanian league, where he could play his game, he was making 40.5% of his 12.3 (!) triple tries.
Attacking the rim
Second, when Deividas is closed out on hard, he can attack the basket.
He can go either hand, play through contact if necessary, and either finish himself or dish to an open teammate. He can attack the basket with drives to create his own offense or work well in set plays.
Fourth, despite his young age, Deividas can take advantage of opponents’ mistakes and abuse them in such cuts. Even when defenders stay alert, he’s able to throw them off the scent with his quickness and agility.
Finally, the young Lithuanian can be a real force in transition. His quickness allows him to make himself available for passes that he can convert into easy points.
All these things constitute a prospect who maybe won’t be able to dominate on the strong side, but who could provide a strong punch from the weak side and in open court.
And do not doubt our guy on defense
While on offense Deividas might claim a secondary role, on defense he shows eagerness to be a jack of all trades and master of SOME.
First of all, Deividas is developing into a really solid on-ball defender. Last year, he made a big leap going from a routinely poor stance and footwork, to such an implacable on-ball pressure that mixes a better stance and solid footwork with active hands and some ability to fight through screens.
Poor stance, off balance
Solid footwork and stance
Dave is still a little inelastic in his movement so he may give his man too much space, but as we can see in the next clips even then he tries to recover. Nevertheless, this is something he still needs to work on.
Too much space
Recover and contest
Third, Deividas shows that he can be very useful as a help defender. He is active in passing lanes and can chase shooters through screens to deny them easy position. He’s also very eager to provide help. However, sometimes he makes mental mistakes that need to be eliminated.
Playing passing lanes
Fight through screens
Fourth, with his quickness, the Lithuanian player can be a valuable stopper in transition.
And lastly, owning to his constantly running motor and eagerness to do everything to win every play, he proves to be very helpful on the defensive glass.
If these signs of progress and potential as a young prospect develop into attributes of a matured player, he surely can make significant contributions to winning basketball even being a secondary or tertiary option on offense. And they really are becoming parts of his basketball identity, as he already fluently speaks Pistonish.
The only question that is left is if he can develop on both sides of the ball. Well, I can’t give unequivocal answer to this question ex ante, but I can point to two features of his character that can shift the scales towards the positive outcome.
A smart guy with a big heart too
Deividas is the son of former Lithuanian basketball player, Virginijus Sirvydis. After his playing career was over, his father became a coach. And it shows that Dave isn’t a random European kid who started to play basketball because he had grown too much to play soccer. These clips show that, despite his early age, he really can read the game and knows what he needs to do in given situation for his team to succeed.
But Deividas isn’t a smartass either. He knows that there’s a lot of learning and a lot of work he needs to do. This is why he didn’t whine when they didn’t want him to play in G League last year, and instead recommended he stay for another year in Europe. He took it as an opportunity to work on his body and his game. And he really used this opportunity very well as he has become stronger and has improved his defense. Next, when the pandemic struck, he moved to Israel where he could play more competitive and more offensively developed basketball, making the most of his time until the situation with the offseason and new NBA season became more clear. This didn’t go unnoticed as his new coach, former Israeli Basketball Super League MVP, Oded Kattash, was so impressed with his attitude and play that, despite planning to give him a few months for accommodation, inserted him immediately to the playing roster. It really looks like this kid has a heart as big as a basketball. And this can be seen on the court too, when he makes such hustle plays or when he stays engaged in the play even if his teammate doesn’t want to pass him the ball.
So, as we can see, last season Deividas came a long way in his development. As I advocated earlier, to further improve he needs to start playing in a system which can use his abilities to the fullest. He tried this in Israel and it was a better place for him than Rytas, but it still turned out to be not enough.
The best place for him now seems to be the G League, where he could get consistent playing time in a game that uses more sophisticated schemes on the weak side. While it seemed likely Sirvydis would be cast aside like fellow second-round picks Khyri Thomas, Bruce Brown and Jordan Bone, he somehow survived Troy the Ripper and signed a three-year deal with the third year non-guaranteed. The jokes are over; if there are any signs that he can’t be a rotation player in the near future, he’ll be cast off quickly by Weaver. Dave has shown that he can deal with these kinds of challenges, so it’s all in his hands. Good luck young fella!!! I will keep my fingers crossed.