Judging by the number of people who have been asking me about this over the off-season, it seems that there were a few Raptors fans who weren’t sure if the Raptors’ fifth overall pick from the 2011 draft, Jonas Valanciunas, was actually going to sign with the Raptors and be on their roster next season. Hopefully, this tweet from @RaptorsPR will put those fears at rest.

 

He’s finally coming. It’s really happening, you guys.

Valanciunas is the main reason I can’t understand all the pissing and moaning I’ve been seeing from Debbie Downers over the past few weeks. Does everyone realize that if he had come out in the 2012 draft, he would have been the consensus second-best prospect behind Anthony Davis? This isn’t a raw athlete with unrefined basketball skills like Andre Drummond. Valanciunas is a polished, confident, experienced big man who has been on the radar as a prime prospect for the past three years. He’s not over-hyped and he didn’t come out of nowhere. He’s a legitimate stud and I haven’t been this excited about a Raptors draft pick since I started this blog back in 2002.

Everybody loves to compare basketball prospects to NBA players, so here’s my best Valanciunas comparison: I think he can be Joakim Noah with a better offensive skillset. I believe he has top-five NBA center potential and everything I know about him leads me to believe that he’s willing to put in the work it will take to get him to that level.

Is he going to tear up in the NBA in his rookie season as a 20-year-old? Probably not. He needs to bulk up and he’ll probably have issues with foul trouble while he adjusts to the pace and style of the NBA. But as Raptors VP of Basketball Operations Ed Stefanski told Eric Koreen last month, he’s not going to be intimidated: “This kid didn’t back down once. That’s what I like about him most: He doesn’t back down against older men who are pushing and shoving and hitting him.”

If you didn’t get a chance to watch Valanciunas dominate the FIBA Under-19 World Championship last summer (he was named tournament MVP) then it’s partially understandable if you’re not ready to believe the hype. But he’ll be facing off against grown men in the London Olympics, so now you’ll have a great opportunity to see how he performs on his biggest stage yet. I don’t know how many of these games will be televised or where you’ll be able to view them online, but I imagine it won’t be too difficult to find links to feeds on message boards and Twitter.

All times are Eastern Standard Time.

- July 29: Argentina vs. Lithuania — 5:15pm

- July 31: Lithuania vs. Nigeria — 9:30am

- August 2: France vs. Lithuania — 4:00am (Ugh!)

- August 4: Lithuana vs. USA — 9:30am

- August 6: Tunisia vs. Lithuania — 6:15am

Comments (22)

  1. Stein saying they are wrapping up a multi-year deal with John Lucas as well.

    Maybe they aren’t holding onto Calderon, why would they guarantee multiple years to a third PG when they have Uzoh for peanuts if they want him?

  2. And since Javtokas is out with injury trouble, Valančiūnas stays as the main center with only older but less experienced Kavaliauskas as back-up. Songaila will also hold 4 and 5.

    No question that this will be J-Val’s time to shine.

  3. Glad to get this out of the way, still don’t think he impacts the team much next year. People need to temper their expectations a bit because they’ll turn on him when he doesn’t live up to them.

    • somewhat agree. give him 15-20 minutes off the bench to start and see what he does with it. if he deserves more or less, adjust accordingly.

  4. Please don’t be soft, Please don’t be soft, Please don’t be soft, Please don’t be soft, Please don’t be soft, Please don’t be soft, Please don’t be soft, Please don’t be soft, Please don’t be soft, Please don’t be soft, Please don’t be soft, Please don’t be soft, Please don’t be soft, Please don’t be soft, Please don’t be soft, Please don’t be soft, …

    • Have you watched the video? Does he look soft to you? Don’t fall back on Euro stereotypes. Lithuanian ballers don’t tend to be soft.

    • Reallifexman, while the stereotype is to label Euro players as “soft,” the truth is that the European game is much, MUCH more physical than the NBA game. That’s why young Euro big men often find themselves in foul trouble as NBA rookies, because they’re used to getting away with more physical play in Europe.

      • Yeah sorry guys, just being cynical. Feels like the rapts have had the soft label since vince, and after watching bosh get pushed around by the nets in the playoffs I’m just hungry for some toughness and grit. JV does look solid.

  5. If Jonas is ‘polished, confident and experienced’ why wouldn’t he tear up the NBA? Isn’t polish, experience and confidence the biggest difference between rookies and mature NBA players?

    “He’s not over-hyped ”

    this entire peice is an over-hyped peice.

    I have high expectations for this guy, about 3 to 5 years from now. But how about we watch him consistently play against NBAers and not worry about how he beats the crap out of teenagers.

    • Rapsfan said: “how about we watch him consistently play against NBAers and not worry about how he beats the crap out of teenagers?”

      I think you’re confusing standard NCAA college guys, who actually play against teenagers, with players like Jonas who have played PRO BALL in Europe…against fully grown men.

      • He was obviously referring to Scott raving about his FIBA-under 19 tournament performance.

        He didn’t really dominate in Lithuania when he played against grown men.

        • yeah thought that was obvious

          • Fair enough, but then why do people put so much stock in what prospects do in the NCAA? That’s also against teenagers and a lot of young players going nowhere.

          • I’d say the comparison between the NCAA and an U19 tournament is much more complex than just their age (which isn’t equivalent as an under 19 tournament wouldn’t allow a huge portion of NCAA players)

  6. I’m not BC’s biggest fan, to put it mildly, but I am absolutely excited about the prospect of JV eventually (hopefully sooner than later) playing in a starting lineup with Lowry. That will help put the “soft” label that’s been haunting this team into the fucking shredder.

  7. Looking forward to Aug 4th vs USA …. finally get to see him play against NBA players … good luck

  8. man, is he ever good at pick and roll.

  9. I’m super pumped… at the same time, I’m a little worried. JV doesn’t seem like he gets super high above the rim. The NBA is a league of not only skill, but features some of the most athletically gifted people on the planet. Some of those layups and dunks in the video will get sent back down his throat in the NBA.

    I hope I’m wrong, cuz other than that, this guy looks legit.

    • Valanciunas probably has average NBA athleticism, at best. But athleticism only takes you so far in this sport. See: Jordan, DeAndre and Mcgee, JaVale.

      Jonas has a high basketball IQ, he’s super-competitive, and it seems like he might have a mean streak. I can’t guarantee he’ll be an All-Star, but I feel he won’t be a bust unless he suffers a catastrophic injury early in his career. Simply put: He’s got the goods.

  10. Hope he really reaches a high potential eventually, and that the raps can build around him when the time is right.

  11. “Valanciunas is the main reason I can’t understand all the pissing and moaning I’ve been seeing from Debbie Downers over the past few weeks.”

    The reason is because Valanciunas is the ONLY player on the roster with star upside. Everyone else look like role players, at best, and flawed role players at worst.

    Can everyone remember the last time the Raptors marched into the playoffs with only one star and a bunch of role players?

  12. Can’t wait to see him in action come the Olympics and I will be crossing my fingers that he will not suffer from the post-olympics jinx once the season starts up. what’s the post-Olympic jinx, you ask? It’s when a player who participated in the Olympics plays lack lustre due to fatigue or injuries caused in summer play. lets knock on wood.

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