Mindaugas Katelynas NBA Draft Scouting Report

Mindaugas Katelynas NBA Draft Scouting Report
May 20, 2005, 08:13 pm
Has all the physical characteristics an NBA team looks for in a small forward. At 6-9 and with a nice wingspan, he certainly has the body, although he is a little skinny. The most impressive thing about Katelynas is his incredible athletic ability, which rivals basically any player in this draft. He moves very well and is extremely quick up and down the floor. On top of that, he probably has the best vertical leap of any player his size in the draft, with an NCAA slam dunk contest trophy to back that up. He not only jumps for height, but also for distance, thanks to his excellent hang-time. He can receive the ball right on the outskirts of the lane, and elevate for a dunk without needing a head start to finish strong and comfortably, thanks to his athleticism and wingspan.

Offensively, Katelynas' role in college appeared to be limited from the two tapes of his we've acquired this year. His team loved to run the floor, and so does he, so he was the perfect big man to do that in their system as he usually beats most guards down the floor. This is how he scored a lot of his points, along with the many offensive rebounds he would collect. His motor is outstanding and he never stops moving for even a second. Katelynas is excellent moving off the ball as he understands the concept of team play and looks very efficient executing in set plays, as you would expect from a European prospect. He is a solid passer, and plays the game patiently, almost never taking bad shots (56 FG%, 46% 3P) and always playing within himself.

Katelynas is an excellent rebounder thanks to his physical attributes, motor and sheer desire. He knows how to box out and position himself for rebounds and has pretty nice hands as well. These same characteristics also make him a shotblocking threat when he is guarding players who are smaller than him, which will happen often in the NBA if he's playing his projected position at the 3.

In general, he is a very hard worker both on and off the court, who never complains about his role and always gives 100% effort. He is a team player who sets excellent picks and is willing to hustle and sacrifice his body to give his team an advantage. He isn't soft in the least bit and will take a charge or hit the deck without thinking twice if the opportunity presents itself. He plays the game with a lot of energy and has a great court demeanor, appearing to be an excellent teammate.

He is a very intelligent player who understands the game and has a huge upside to continue to improve thanks to his size, smarts, body, freakish athleticism, work ethic, attitude and excellent feel for the game. He's a true sleeper in this draft.

In college, Katelynas was used almost strictly as either a power forward or center. Besides one perimeter oriented freshman who got about 11 minutes per game, Katelynas was the biggest player on his team and was therefore expect to play accordingly.

Offensively, the paint was his usual habitat, and for him to score in the half court set he was expected to establish position, seal off his man and back him down to the basket. He does not have the bulk or the post moves to score like that on a consistent basis, but that's what his team needed him to do, and he never complained. Therefore his perimeter skills, especially his ball-handling skills are not up to par with the rest of his game. His handle isn't atrocious or anything like that, but it most definitely needs work for him to be able to contribute on a consistent basis in the NBA. While he shot an excellent percentage from behind the arc as well (46%) he did so on a limited number of attempts (less than 1.5 per game) so this is not really a large enough sample size. At Portsmouth he looked like he had a pretty nice stroke, but his perimeter shooting was inconsistent both in warm-ups and during the games. He also needs to improve his free throw shooting, which stands at 65%.

Defensively, Katelynas has all the tools and then some to be an excellent perimeter defender, but none of the experience needed to be able to guard the SF position. His role for UT Chattanooga was mostly to either guard their biggest player on the floor or sit in the middle of the paint and challenge shots when they played zone. His perimeter footwork did not look great on tape, and he didn't stand out in this area (man to man defense) in Portsmouth beyond getting into the passing lanes and blocking shots thanks to his wingspan and athleticism.

Another thing that might be considered a weakness is the fact that he basically came out of nowhere at Portsmouth, only being invited after other players turned down the committee first. He played for a small school in a small conference and might be suffering from underexposure because of that. Has the NBA seen enough of him, especially considering how few scouts and GM's stuck around to watch him at Portsmouth?

Katelynas played for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga for his junior and senior years, in the Southern conference, which produced a first round draft pick in Kevin Martin last year at Western Carolina.

As a PF/C, he averaged 12 points and 9 rebounds per game in 26 minutes in his senior season, on 56% from the field and 46% from behind the arc. His team won their conference tournament (with Katelynas being named the conference MVP) and took Wake Forest to the wire (with Katelynas struggling with foul trouble) in the first round of the NCAA tournament before losing.

As a junior, he averaged 8 points and 5 rebounds in 19 minutes on 67% from the field.

He played his first two seasons at Eastern Utah, a junior college, because of the fact that he was one point shy on his ACT score for qualifying for division one. In his sophomore year at Eastern Utah, he averaged 10 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.2 fouls in under 10 minutes a game.

Katelynas established himself as one of the more intriguing sleeper prospects in this draft with a terrific performance at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament in early April. What is ironic is that he was not invited to the tournament initially and only caught on after he won the NCAA slam dunk contest on national television. He got into the slam dunk contest after his coaches at UT Chattanooga put together a highlight tape from practices and games and sent it in to the NCAA. After a few higher profile prospects pulled their name out of Portsmouth, a spot was opened up for Katelynas. He was labeled by Assistant Director of NBA scouting services Ryan Blake as the sleeper of Portsmouth a few days before the tournament started in an interview here on DraftExpress (see archives).

Since Portsmouth, he has been training in Los Angeles with Athlete's performances and a personal basketball trainer to prepare himself for the many workouts which he has already lined up before the Chicago pre-draft camp, which starts on June 7th.

He is viewed as a 2nd round pick at the moment, with a chance to move into the first round with a strong showing in private workouts and Chicago.

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