Another example of the seemingly endless pool of Lithuanian wing shooters, Renaldas Seibutis also features other intriguing characteristics that make him worthy of another look. We're talking about a rather complete shooting guard here, who's still very young but has a good feel for the game.
Starting with his shot, he's really an awesome gunner from the mid-range area. Of course, he also enjoys three point range, but prefers to step in and secure the two points. He shows excellent mechanics, whether in static fashion or off the dribble. One of his favourite moves is to penetrate from behind the arc and then pull up and release a jumper a couple of strides later, taking advantage of his defender's unbalanced position, and showing a fairly quick first step and good handles in the process. Of course, if he has the chance, he will go all the way to the basket and deliver a layup, preferably using his right hand. He looks like a promising slasher.
On defense, he shows the right attitude. He's intense and takes care of both his man and the team defense. In general, he's a player that transmits a hard working and team-oriented attitude, not saving effort and not being selfish. Indeed, Renaldas is quite a nice passer. More than just delivering definitive passes, though, he's an excellent cog in his team's ball movement, thinking and delivering quickly, usually to the right man. He can execute some point guard duties as well, such as bringing the ball up the floor and distributing it, although he's no playmaker. He has a pretty good basketball mind, he knows the game and it seems that he loves to play it.
Renaldas isn't particularly tall for a shooting guard. At 6-5 (perhaps on his way to 6-6), he has enough size, but you would like to see it matched with better-than-average athleticism, and that's not the case. The Lithuanian has decent physical attributes, but that's it. He's a player that will have to survive off his skills.
Also, even if Seibutis is a great shooter, he's still inconsistent from the three point range. To solve this problem is a must for him in order to gain value. It wouldn't be as easy for him to get mid-range shots in a superior level as it is for him right now in the weak Lithuanian League.
Regarding his slashing abilities, he's not always capable of beating his matchups. He lacks a little bit of footwork to drive in heavy traffic, the strength to do it and his first step could be better. He could use another degree of explosiveness and strength, but it's something he can get with the proper work, as he's still physically underdeveloped, rather skinny. He won't probably be able to add a lot of weight (and he probably shouldn't), but he will likely have a more developed body as he matures.
He would also use that extra strength and explosiveness in his defense. He shows problems working his way through screens and his lateral defensive movement looks average, although his intensity makes up for it.
After playing the 2002/03 season for Palangos Naglis in the LKBL league, Seibutis made his debut in the LKL, the first Lithuanian league, at the age of 17 playing for Sakalai. In that season (2003/04) he already averaged 7.6 points, 2.1 rebounds, 0.9 assists and 1 steal per game.
For this season, he has increased his minutes from 17.6 to 31.8 per game, while his stats have grown to 18.1 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2 assists and 1.5 steals. His percentages are remarkable, as Renaldas nets 58% of his shots from the field, and that includes a large amount of jumpers. From the free-throw line, he shoots 87.9%, the kind of accuracy that a shooter usually enjoys.
Those are impressive numbers for a guy that's still 19 years old, but it's important to realize that the Lithuanian league is a pretty weak competition despite producing so many good players, as there are only two good teams in terms of the international European level, Zalgiris Kaunas and Lietuvos Rytas. The drop-off after those two is huge, as if they played in different divisions.
Indeed, checking Renaldas' stats against those two teams, we see how his scoring and percentages drop to 16.2 points with 39.5% from the field in the 6 games where he has played meaningful minutes so far this season. The other statistical departments remain rather stable.
Sakalai also plays in the Baltic League, a competition that features Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian teams. There, Renaldas averages 19.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.5 steals. But the situation is pretty much the same in this league, as besides Zalgiris and Rytas, only Ventspils can give them a good fight.
I think that for a player like him, young and still in the process of developing his skills, but already good enough to get big minutes and stats with his team, it would be good to find more difficult challenges in the coming seasons, in order to keep improving his game.
Seibutis isn't a top level prospect with unlimited potential, that's pretty much clear. But he's an interesting player, a guy that could be used on many teams if he develops his game properly. That's why he might get some consideration for the second round when he'll become automatically eligible in the 2007 draft.
Renaldas is one of those guys that bases his game on skills and fundamentals rather than physical and athletic gifts. If he can't make it to the NBA (which barring serious improvement seems like the most probable situation even if he's eventually drafted), he may become a very good player for European competition. Given that Lithuania has entered the European Union, it wouldn't surprise me to see him signing with a healthy Euro club in the near future.
MVP of the 2005 U-21 World Championships in Argentina, after leading his team to the Gold medal.