Lithuania’s tournament ended with a loud thud Wednesday morning as they were quickly picked apart by Australia in the quarterfinals, 90-64. Our dude Mindaugas Kuzminskas played a tournament-high 31 minutes and finished with 6 points on 3-7 shooting (0-1 from beyond the arc).
In the end, Kuzminskas ranked second on the team in both points (10.8 per game) and rebounds (4.5 per game). His shooting efficiency was remarkable (53.2%), particularly from inside the arc (66.7%):
As far as NBA writers are concerned, reaction of his tournament was decidedly mixed, trending toward the negative:
Kuzminskas showing more ball skills than I recall seeing from him last year at Eurobasket— Nate Duncan (@NateDuncanNBA) August 13, 2016
I just don't see how Kuzminskas, who just signed a 2 year, $6m deal with the Knicks, is playable defensively in the NBA.— Derek Bodner (@DerekBodnerNBA) August 16, 2016
Overall, Kuzminskas hasn’t really done anything to assuage my fears on him in the NBA in this tourney. https://t.co/geGhFBBsxa— Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) August 17, 2016
Having watched most of Lithuania’s games, I came away with the impression that Kuzminskas will fit just fine in the Derrick Williams role everybody is projecting for him. What he lacks in Williams’ explosive athleticism he makes up for in a more well-rounded game. Both are capable of going off on any given night.
I do question how well Kuzia will hold up if asked to play a small-ball 4 — dude is very easily pushed around. Watching him play defense is kind of like how I imagined Kristaps Porzingis would play in his first year, before he exploded onto the NBA scene as one of the best rookie defenders in recent memory ... so what the hell do I know?
Sorry the Olympics had to end so poorly for you, Mindaugas, but you gave it a hell of a run. Hopefully you will quickly show the world that you also belong on the NBA stage.