World Cup has Knicks fans wondering when former pick will make NBA debut

One of the 2023 FIBA World Cup stars is a player the New York Knicks drafted in the second round of the 2021 NBA Draft, but he’s only represented the team at Summer League once.

Lithuania came alive in the second half against Greece on Friday en route to a 92-67 win. Rokas Jokubaitis scored a team-high 19 points (6-of-8) with six assists, three steals, and only one turnover.

Jokubaitis, the Knicks’ No. 34 overall pick in 2021, and Lithuania will go up against the United States on Sunday. Lithuania and the U.S. are in Group J and have perfect 4-0 records thus far in the World Cup, so one of the teams will suffer their first loss in their second game of the second round.

The 22-year-old guard talked to EuroHoops’ Aris Barkas about what it’d be like to face two players he could one day be in New York with, Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart.

“Everybody knows the situation. It will be a fun matchup to play against those guys,” Jokubaitis added with a sly smile.

Team USA set to face Knicks’ 2021 second-round draft pick Rokas Jokubaitis

Knicks fans were crossing their fingers that Rokas Jokubaitis would be at Summer League this past July, but he chose to prepare to represent Lithuania at the World Cup. He was at Summer League with New York a couple of months after being drafted but didn’t play in 2022 because of an injury.

Along with preparing for the World Cup, Jokubaitis’ agent said, “There is no room for Rokas on the Knicks roster, therefore playing Summer League doesn’t make much sense.”

The guard’s play for Lithuania has many convinced he’s ready to take the next step and come to the United States to play in the NBA. The team has kept in contact with Jokubaitis’ camp, but as his agent noted, New York’s roster is overflowing with guards. That doesn’t mean the Knicks should push Jokubaitis to the side, as he’s an impressive prospect.

Tom Thibodeau said earlier this year he was hoping to see Jokubaitis at Summer League, and although that didn’t happen, the coach’s sentiment about wanting to see the guard play again likely hasn’t changed. After Sunday’s contest, Brunson and Hart can give a good scouting report on Jokubaitis.

Nothing new has been reported about Rokas Jokubaitis’ future, but the attention he’s drawn in the World Cup can’t be ignored. He’s proving he’s the real deal.