FC Barcelona point guard Rokas Jokubaitis, the New York Knicks’ draft-and-stash pick in 2021, has been named the 2021-22 EuroLeague’s Rising Star. The EuroLeague is considered the top international basketball association, so Rokas beat out genuine talent for the honor. What’s more, the award is voted on by coaches, i.e., competent folks who can recognize the value of a player’s contribution, not some nincompoop fans picking their favorites.
In 35 games this season, the 21-year-old Lithuanian (6’4”, 185 lbs) averaged 7.2 points and 2.8 assists on 56% shooting from the floor and 59.5% (what?) from deep on 1.1 attempts. His totals led all Rising-Star candidates. This was his fourth season with the EuroLeague.
Rokas has been a key player in Barcelona’s charge into the EuroLeague’s Final Four. Barcelona will face off with Real Madrid on May 19, and I’ll preemptively start a “Rokas destroys all comers, single-handedly wins the EuroLeague Championship” article now.
His shooting from downtown has been blazing over the latter half of the season, going 22-for-34 over his last 24 games, including the playoffs. Rokas is on a historic tear for his league. How would he fare against NBA competition and an increased workload? Geez, we could tolerate a regression to 40-45%, I bet.
Thus far, the young star has been cagey about whether he will come over to the States. Some argue that it is just a matter of time because the pay and exposure are significantly greater in the NBA. His arrival would add a significant wrinkle to the point guard situation unfolding in New York, of course. Will the Knicks wait for Rokas, ride into the 2022-23 season with Immanuel Quickley at the head, draft a new PG, or fork over bucks/assets for a recognizable name like Mitchell or Brunson?
The summer drama is shaping up nicely. In the meantime, congratulations Rokas Jokubaitis!
PS: Some parting food-for-thought from Tommy Beer as we inch toward the Draft:
For the folks that claim second-round picks are valueless:— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) February 7, 2022
Rokas Jokubaitis (EuroLeague Rising Star), Herbert Jones (key contributor for the Pels), Miles McBride (avg. 28/9/5 in the G League) and Ayo Dosunmu were taken between the 34th and 38th overall picks in the 2021 draft