POSITION: Point Guard
TEAM: Zalgiris (Lithuania)
Rokas Jokubaitis was born in Mažeikiai. He started playing basketball at the age of 8-9 and went to Klaipeda to play at Vladas Knašius basketball school, which was hundreds of kilometers away from Mažeikiai at the age of 14. He stayed at a friend's house in Klaipeda, but after his parents take a job offer from Klaipeda, Rokas started living with his family again. When I interviewed Šarūnas Jasikevičius, Lukas Lekavičius and Jack Landale, I asked them about their thoughts on Rokas.
Saras: "Jokubaitis is a very talented and smart player. He can shoot, dribble, perform well on defense and keep up with team play. I appreciate his off-courtlife. He loves spending time with his family. His relationship with his friends is friendly and good but this kid's favorite thing is to train. I don't think he can play consistently in the NBA, but he will be a good player in Europe."
Lukas: "Jokubaitis is one of the youngest players in our team. I was impressed by the 19-year-old player taking responsibility in the Euroleague. Because Rokas is not a young player who is waiting to take the ball and shot. He wants to take the ball and manage our team. This instinct of responsibility makes him valuable."
Jack: "Well, Rokas, my little friend. He is very cheerful and good person off the court. He loves his family, loves to talk about basketball, and always works."
I think, Rokas Jokubaitis possesses good size for a point guard standing at 6-foot-4. Rokas' arms are not too long but enough for the NBA level. My biggest concern about his upper body is shoulders. In general, I can say that Jokubaitis is not a very strong guard. However, Rokas has enough power for his game repertoire. Shoulders can be a problem. Because his shoulders are not very wide, this may not seem like a big problem, but when I think that Rokas will take the role of a shooter or drive and dish player in the NBA, his shoulders must be strong to pass the strong guards. I mean, RJ will need it to take advantage of his opponent while drives, to take a contact and create a position/spacing. He will need this to gain momentum while shooting. Yes, in the Euroleague it problem did not create a big minus, but Jokubaitis will need it at the NBA pace. I think his lower body is good. Not too strong but quick. His hip mobility is good. Also has very good footwork in terms of quickness and step movement. He can transfer energy to his upper body from his lower body. So, he can get momentum with that.
I am thinking of the important prospects of Lithuania. The most important feature of Augustas Marciulionis on offense is to create spacing with his intelligence and to use that spacing. The most important feature of Azuolas Tubelis on offense is a strong finish around the basket. The most important feature of Emilis Butkus on offense is to make drive and dish well. Liutauras Lelevicius, Gytis Valickas and Radvilas Kneizys are good long and medium distance shooters. I think Rokas Jokubaitis contains all the things I wrote here. The left-handed point guard can create shooting spacing for himself. He can shot both mid-range and deep-range. I think his mid-range game is very good thanks to RJ's shifty handle, good footwork, court vision and solid mechanic. He has a quick release and nice balance on his shots. In my opinion, his drive and dish skill is underrated. Rokas's showed a lot of things in this season about his high dribble, pass after dribble and combination of transition dribble and quick pass. While doing these things, he uses his finger sensitivity, game reading ability, body balance and footwork perfectly. I think Lithuanian prospect has the potential to be a leader passer. His handle and passing packages are good with shiftiness. Rokas is an excellent operator in pick and roll/pop plays, showing natural talents and is able to drive and dish. As I said, he is a good passer and driver but showed his talents in the Lithuanian League. He rarely showed in the Euroleague that he could do these things. The main problems here are that his athletics are bad. He showed vertical pop showed in some matches but he has to improve. Also, not good laterally. I mean, Rokas is not a good shooter enough to take the role of CnS in the NBA. He uses his left hand well, but he has to improve his right hand. Yes, he is a good passer but not a good passer at the NBA to manage the tempo with lack of elite physical tools. RJ is a good player for European standards for now. However, at the end of the day, I think that if Rokas is chosen by a team that loves development in the short term (Celtics, Raptors, Nuggets and Clippers) and steps into the NBA after spending a year or two in G League, things might change. Because I think the pure abilities of this kid raise his ceiling. He needs to improve his athlectisim, shot consistent and decision-making mechanism.
Rokas Jokubaitis has something important to improve on defense, but let's start with good things. He showed some flashes on-ball defense with quick hands and eye-hand coordination and some flashes off-ball defense with good follow timing. Also, Jokubaitis sees opponents game and running through passing lanes, coming up with deflections. However, his lack of athlectisim hurt him here too much. I mean, his defensive rhythm falls completely when the screen comes up while he playing with effort. He knows where his opponent is going, but he cannot practice theoretical knowledge. His footwork is good, but as I said, he can't walk around screens consistently. He remaining thin against quick and strong guards. He was the worst defender of his team in some matches in the Lithuanian League. If he can physically come to average levels, the worst thing he does in defense is rim protection, and that's okay. His game knowledge, overall body coordination and timing are great; He can defend closeouts,off-ball, on-ball, not a positional defender, but shows enough effort. He can be a good two-way player if he develops physically.
Rokas Jokubaitis is a talented player and has an excellent off-court. He can shoot, dribble, and his pass repertoire is wide. However, in order for him to be a good player in the NBA, I think he needs to improve his athletics package. If he can do it, I think Rokas can be a good rotation player in the NBA.