Career: Montrose Christian High-School (USA, 2002-03), Missouri (USA-NCAA, 2002-05), Denver Nuggets (USA-NBA, 2005-06).
Nobody really expected Linas Kleiza to stick around when he joined the Denver Nuggets training camp at 20. With a roster so deep in the paint and subs like Nenê or Eduardo Najera, he seemed bound for the NBA D-League. But he made the team. "He earned himself minutes", said Kenyon Martin, pretty impressed with the way the young Lithuanian responded to the opportunity. "Sometimes, you only get one chance", said Kleiza, who hustled on defence, grabbed some rebounds and made a few shots on offence. "I think he responded very well", says former Nuggets GM Kiki Vandeweghe.
With a few moves expected to happen this summer in Denver, the energetic power forward may be able to get even more minutes next season in Colorado. For a first, he will try to show on the World Championship stage that he belongs.