Las Vegas — in his short time in the NBA, Deividas Sirvydis has heard the questions already.
What’s his game like? Is he strong enough? Where is he going to play next season?
All are fair questions and they come with the territory for a relatively unknown 19-year-old shooter from Lithuania. If he had the same skill set and went to North Carolina or Kentucky, there wouldn’t be nearly as many queries, but playing overseas draws those concerns from those who haven’t seen him play.
“The first thing everybody talks about is my body and I need to be stronger and bigger,” Sirvydis said. “(They say), ‘You need to improve on your shot and defense.’ ”
The Pistons didn’t have nearly as many issues.
In fact, they traded up from No. 45 and added to future second-round picks in order to take Sirvydis at No. 37, likely getting antsy because they thought another team might select the 6-foot-8 lefty.
In the end, they got the player they wanted — and a player who wanted to be with them.
“First, I wanted to just be drafted. There was a lot of talk that I should be here and I wanted to be here,” Sirvydis said.
The Pistons had shown interest in Sirvydis before the draft but he wasn’t sure that they’d be the ones to take him. When they executed the trade and selected him 37th, he said he wasn’t really surprised — but more relieved because he had been picked.
“Not really (surprised),” he said. “I was sitting and waiting for the 40th pick and when I heard my name, I was excited and shaking.”
At 19 years old and 190 pounds, Sirvydis still is very thin by NBA standards. He’s likely slotted as a small forward, where he’ll need to work on his size and his agility to stay with players on defense.
More than that, he still has to some work to do on his body, looking to add muscle to be able to withstand the longer NBA season and the pounding that goes on with bigger players. He played in the top league in Lithuania, which is a step, but it’s not quite what he’ll see in a longer NBA schedule and against bigger players.
The early indication is that it’s unlikely that he’ll play for the Pistons next season.
The plan appears to be for him to play another year in Lithuania and the Pistons will retain his draft rights, at which time he may be a better fit. Alternatively, Sirvydis could play with the Grand Rapids Drive, the Pistons’ G-League affiliate, if they choose to open one of the two-way contract spots.
Either way, it’s clear that the Pistons are high on Sirvydis’ potential.
“He’s got pretty good skills. One thing with him is that he understands English pretty well, so that helps for those guys who are foreign, making sure terminology-wise,” said Pistons assistant coach Sean Sweeney, who is running the Summer League squad. “He has a pretty good shooting touch and I think he’s got the ability to move the ball, so you would think that he probably could see the game pretty well as he keeps going.”
In his first Summer League practices, some observers said that Sirvydis appeared to hold his own and when the Pistons play their opener on Friday, Sirvydis will be one of the interesting things to watch, to see how his game translates to a more physical NBA style.
“It’s a new thing in my life. I was a little bit nervous before the practices with all the new guys and all the new staff. I’m excited and it’s a pleasure to be here,” Sirvydis said. “First, I want to improve and show coaches I can play in practice. I just want to help my team win — team is all that matters.”
In that way, he’s done well for himself, in not worrying about the long-term future and choosing to focus on what he can do now. He’ll have ample opportunity in Summer League, but after that, the plan remains unclear.
Sirvydis says he’ll go back to Los Angeles and continue working out individually until he finds out what the Pistons plan to do.
Either way, it’s a good summer for him — even if he doesn’t answer all the questions.