Fighting for a Spot: Egidijus Mockevičius

Skilled big men are a highly sought-after commodity in the NBA. And there’s no escaping the fact that the current Brooklyn Nets roster is awfully short on those, with only Brook Lopez and Justin Hamilton able to play big minutes at the five position. That’s the biggest reason Sean Marks decided to take a flier on Egidijus Mockevičius, an undrafted 23-year-old University of Evansville graduate. Mockevičius was the NCAA’s leading rebounder last season, averaging 14 rebounds per game for the Evansville Purple Aces. He also projects to be a decent rim protector, which is another thing NBA teams are high on. Like Yogi Ferrell and Beau Beech before him, the Nets signed Egidijus Mockevičius to a partially guaranteed one-year deal.

The Lithuania native played all four years at University of Evansville. He was at his most productive as a junior and senior, when he was selected to the First Team of the Missouri Valley Conference. In his final season with the Purple Aces, he was named the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year. He led the entire NCAA in rebounds, and his per-40 numbers (17.6) paint a vivid picture of just how dominant he was at that level. During his four years at Evansville, he averaged 11.1 PPG, 9.3 RPG and 2.2 BPG. Somewhat surprisingly, he went undrafted at the 2016 NBA draft.

With a 6’9″ frame and a whooping 7-foot wingspan, Mockevičius can hold his own on the court. He’s a voracious rebounder, constantly committed to boxing out and going after every loose ball. On offense, he relies on a smooth-looking right hook shot, which he converts at a decent rate. He can also use his left hand to finish in traffic. He’s dangerous out of pick-and-roll plays, rolling hard to the basket and drawing the defense to him. He shows promise as a rim protector, registering 3.5 blocks per 40 minutes at Evansville. He has shown a strong work ethic on and off the court.

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Other than his right hook shot, Mockevičius doesn’t have many tools in his offensive arsenal. He needs to work on his post game, as he’s too predictable when playing with his back to the basket. He doesn’t have much range, and his entire offensive production depends on finishing around the basket. He’s somewhat of a black hole on offense, having registered a mere nine assists in his senior season. He’s just an average individual defender, and often fouls himself out of games. He could stand to toughen up around the basket, as his opponents often back him down without much trouble. His lateral quickness and overall athleticism leave something to be desired.

Mockevičius did well in a limited role with the Nets during the 2016 Summer League. In his first two games against the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Washington Wizards, he registered 8.5 points and 5 rebounds per game. Considering the Nets only have two true centers on the roster at this point, he can certainly hope to make the final 15-man squad. He’ll get his chance to impress during the preseason camp period. Good rim protectors and rebounding machines are hard to come by, and Kenny Atkinson should be intrigued by his skill set.

and here’s how to pronounce his name

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