Analyzing Mantas Rubstavicius and Alex Toohey in an NBL Play-In Qualifier Game

 May 5th, 2024

by Alan Lu

Recently, I took the time to watch New Zealand’s 6-6 Lithuanian swingman, Mantas Rubstavicius play in a February 28th NBL play-in qualifier game against Sydney, with thanks to YouTube via National Basketball League.  He quietly had a solid season, as he played well in his role and turned in strong shooting percentages this year.  This matchup also featured Sydney’s 6-7 forward Alex Toohey, who was able to get meaningful minutes in this game.  Here are my thoughts on how both of the players fared, as well as how their games may translate to the NBA.

New Zealand’s 6-6 swingman, Mantas Rubstavicius is an agile, skilled swingman whose skill set and versatility could make him an intriguing option for NBA teams to consider in the second round of the 2024 draft. (Photo: John Davidson/Photosport, via 1News)

Mantas Rubstavicius had a satisfactory showing in his team’s win over Sydney.  He especially played well on offense, and he was able to make some impactful plays on both ends of the floor.  He did foul out, but in general he excelled as a scorer and hustle player in this game.

Rubstavicius did his best work as a scorer on the break.  He was able to use a behind-the-back dribble move to score on a strong layup off the glass.  He also ran the floor to get the ball to make an open three-pointer.  On the downside, he missed on a running floater on a half-court drive early on, but Rubstavicius showed that he can make shots off the catch and on fast breaks.

He also displayed solid playmaking skills.  He would throw crisp, accurate interior passes to set up scores for his teammates.  He was able to drive up the floor and throw a no-look pass across the paint to notch an assist.  He also threw a quick entry pass to find a teammate on the break.  Plus, he also was able to use a pump fake and make a quick drive and kick pass to find an open shooter another time.  Rubstavicius generally passed and handled the ball well.  He also will move off the ball and would sometimes set screens on offense.  On one play though, he handled the ball briefly before picking up his dribble, and he then threw a hasty pass with a defender’s arm draped all over him, which led his pass to getting intercepted that time.  On the downside, Rubstavicius was not credited with grabbing any rebounds in this game.  On one play, he allowed an offensive rebound in his area, as he then fouled his opponent and allowed a put back score.

Also, Rubstavicius played satisfactory defense in this game.  He was able to hustle back to block a shot off of a fast break drive out of bounds due to possessing solid length, athleticism, and timing.  He also rotated to cut off a drive, then rotated to a shooter out on the perimeter, and then stayed in front of his man o na drive to contest the shot to force a miss, which showcased his quick rotation, length, and footwork on the defensive end.  He also was able to jump on a loose ball deflected to him to help his team get a steal.  He also would look to stay with his man and contest shots to force misses and passes, and he sometimes would do a good job of fighting through screens.  On the other hand, sometimes he would struggle to defend screens on the defensive end.  He went under a screen instead of fighting through it to try to stay with his man, but he gave up too much space and allowed his man to make a three-pointer early on.  Another time, he committed a blocking foul on a drive as he was presumably called for the flop that time.  On another play, he rotated to defend a screener off the ball, but he stuck his elbow out and committed the foul that time, leading him to foul out.

In general, Mantas Rubstavicius is an agile, skilled swingman that will compete and make hustle plays on both ends of the floor, and he has shown an improved outside shot this past season.  On the downside, he didn’t seem to look for his own shot nearly enough in this game. Recently, he was invited to play at the 2024 G-League Elite Camp this year.  He will need to be more assertive on the offensive end and add more muscle to his frame, but he is an intriguing prospect whose solid skill set and production overseas this year combined with having above average athletic gifts could enable him Rubstavicius to be a solid second round pick in the 2024 draft. If he can continue to make strides to improve his overall game, in a favorable scenario, Rubstavicius could end up being a similar player to Phoenix Suns’ guard, Grayson Allen in the NBA.

Alex Toohey had a strong NBL Blitz, but he didn’t shoot nearly as well in the regular season. He projects into a shooting specialist role, but without an elite three-point shot or athleticism, Toohey may be better served waiting and honing his game to prepare for the 2025 draft instead. (Photo: Getty News, via The Sporting News)

Also, I took the time to watch Sydney’s 6-7 forward, Alex Toohey play, and he turned in a decent showing in his team’s loss to New Zealand.  His teammates didn’t always look for him on offense, and he would go for stretches without the basketball, but he played hard and made solid plays on the offensive end.

Toohey didn’t shoot the three-ball nearly as well on the season as anticipated, but he shot the three-ball well in this particular game.  On one good play, he ran off a ball screen to make a wide-open three to provide some much needed floor spacing for his team.

Plus, he also showed a knack for scoring off offensive rebounds.  He was able to score on a very quick put back off of an offensive board.  He also managed to score on a tip-in due to possessing a solid motor.  He also would look to score on cuts and in transition, but his teammates would usually not get him the ball on the move.  On the downside, despite getting the ball on a quick backdoor cut once, he had trouble scoring when the help arrived, and he ended up missing on a tough, off-balanced layup.

Also, Toohey showed a satisfactory ability to score off the dribble.  He was able to drive hard to the hoop and utilize a crossover to his left before using a quick ball fake to his right, and he then scored on a smooth, turnaround jumper.    He also is an unselfish player that will make the extra pass and will sometimes set screens on offense.

He also showed a solid ability to rebound the basketball.  Toohey would chase after balls to get multiple offensive boards, and he also would leap up to get a handful of defensive rebounds.  He also was able to push the pace off of a defensive rebound once.  Defensively, he looked to be about average.  For the positives, he was able to rotate to alter a shot off of a cut to help his team get a stop.  He also would close out on shooters to help force some misses.  On the downside, he would take bad angles when defending ball handlers in transition, which would lead him to get beat off the dribble when defending in the backcourt, and it would lead his team to give up scores on the break.  Also, he would space out and give up too much space to shooters, which would lead him to allow three-point baskets. 

In summary, Alex Toohey played fairly well in his team’s loss to New Zealand.  He didn’t quite shoot as well on the season, but he is a skilled forward that projects into a 3 and D role at the NBA level.  He’ll need to be a more consistent shooter and focused defender in games, but he is a second round prospect that could be worth a selection in the late second round range in the 2024 draft. If he can make these improvements, in a favorable scenario, he could end up being a solid role player similar to former Oklahoma City Thunder forward, Kyle Singler in the NBA.

All in all, those are my thoughts on how Rubstavicius and Toohey fared in this game.  Thanks for reading.

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