LAS VEGAS – If the Lithuanian lefty Rokas Jokubaitis didn’t prove he should be on the Knicks roster this season, the rookie combo guard at least showed he’s a solid NBA prospect.
Jokubaitis, selected 34th in the second round, has left the Knicks to go back to Spain, presumably to be with his Barcelona team. The plan was for Jokubaitis to play three summer league games — and that’s what he did.
In the three games he played, Jokubaitis was provided limited minutes but was super efficient. He’s fast, he can shoot from 3 and has a liveliness on defense – even if he needs to bulk up.
In 29 minutes, the 20-year-old shot 70 percent (7 of 10). He was 3 of 5 from 3-point range and averaged 6.3 points. He did not play in the opener.
Jokubaitis was projected to play his first year with Barcelona in the Spanish League as a stash pick after playing the past three years in Lithuanian.
But before the summer league started, Jokubaitis said it wasn’t set in stone. Now it is.
Against Detroit on Friday, Jokubaitis had his best outing. He led the Knicks in plus-minus at plus-8 in the loss and was more efficient than wayward-shooting Immanuel Quickley.
In 12 minutes, Jokubaitis scored eight points and shot 3 of 5 with two steals. His lone assist came on a lovely lob to Obi Toppin for a stuff on the fastbreak.
On another play, Jokubaitis outraced the Pistons defense for a tough lefty layup in transition. He then drove for a lefty runner from the baseline – another tough shot. He later hit a 3-pointer.
He has done a lot more to improve his future standing than Argentine point guard Luka Vildoza, who signed last May a four-year, $13.6 million non-guaranteed contract.
Vildoza went scoreless in the first two games and sat out the next two with a sore foot. That came after a substandard showing in the Olympics with Argentina. The theory is Vildoza assuredly would be released if Jokubaitis is signed.
Jokubaitis impressed team brass with his basketball IQ from the first day of summer league practice in Las Vegas last week.
“He’s very good basketball player,’’ Knicks summer-league coach Dice Yoshimoto said. “He can handle the ball, can play off the ball. Plays hard.’’
Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau has not commented about any of the four 2021 draft picks. Knicks president Leon Rose hasn’t talked to the media in more than a year.
The Knicks were set to play their final scheduled game Saturday night against the Cavaliers.
The last contest is the consolation game that was announced Saturday. They will face Atlanta on Monday at 7 p.m. The Hawks drafted Jalen Johnson at 20.
Toppin (23.5 points) and Quickley (21.5 points) are ranked fifth and sixth, respectively in summer-league scoring leaders after four games. Quickley was to sit out Saturday’s game because of a groin issue.
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