OVERALL GRADE: B-
Points Per Game: 10.4 (tied for 2nd on team)
Shooting Percentage: 53.1 (3rd)
Rebounds Per Game: 6.1 (1st)
Blocks Per Game: 0.8 (2nd)
Gilvydas Biruta is quietly becoming one of the best all-around players for the Rhode Island Rams. The numbers don’t lie: the junior forward ranks in the top three on the team in points, rebounds, blocks, and shooting percentage. And while there’s no denying that he got off to a slow start, Biruta has recently shown why he was so highly coveted by Dan Hurley.
Gilvydas has scored in double-figures in each of his past five games while grabbing six or more rebounds in four of them. And if numbers aren’t your thing, all you have to watch is Biruta’s footwork around the basket on the offensive end. His low-post moves and baby hook shots have been a thing of beauty, and he certainly has the ability to score while drawing a foul.
So why does his grade have him teetering on the brink of a C? A few reasons: first, his defense. Biruta has struggled in that department, especially concerning getting back down the court on the fast break. Part of that could certainly be his ankle injury, which may still not be at 100 percent. Gilvydas has also seen breakdowns in his half-court D, leading to some not-so-smart fouls. Which brings us to the other issue: Biruta has topped 28 minutes played just three times over the first 11 games. And while it’s foolish to expect a big man to be completely without foul trouble, Gilvydas has had trouble staying on the floor.
All that said, there’s still way more positives than negatives in regards to the Lithuanian big man. And as he continues to shake off the rust and get closer to 100 percent health-wise, things are only going to get better for Biruta. It’s going to be fun to watch him in the second half of the season.