Since the Toronto Raptors drafted Jonas Valanciunas fifth overall in 2011, the big Lithuanian has been the talking point for fans of the much maligned franchise.

Whether it was naive and uninformed Raptors fans practically rioting on Draft night over the Raps drafting “another soft Euro big man,” or fans later drooling and following the 19-year-old’s every move, Valanciunas quickly became the main attraction of Canada’s lone NBA franchise despite still plying his trade halfway across the globe.

Other than seeing him rock a Raptors cap at the Draft or hold up a Raptors jersey with his name and number on it at a post-Draft presser in Toronto, envisioning Valanciunas in actual Raptors game gear was more of a temporary fantasy than anything else.

But alas, the NBA’s official 2012 Rookie Photo Shoot arrived to save the day and to supply us with a Raptors fan’s equivalent of online erotica.

Here’s Jonas Valanciunas, now 20, looking like the saviour that he obviously is in glorious Raptors red:

All photos courtesy of Getty Images

Here’s Valanciunas posing for the rough sketch of the statue that will one day grace the main entrance at the Air Canada Centre. M.J.’s spread eagle outside the United Center will have nothing on this stoic figure:

Next up is a random photo of Valanciunas about to throw down on a non-existent hoop in the middle of an open field. It really confused me at first, until I realized the symbolism – all Gods are inherently one with nature.

An old photograph of Andre The Giant with a buzz cut and a basketball from the set of "The Princess Bride." Those are some big boy shorts right there.


I dare you to come take this ball from me.

Nice to see Jonas finish up his photoshoot by allowing a couple of kids to take a picture with him

Quincy Acy was in fine form at his own photo shoot, and I’d bet that Terrence Ross ends up having the best rookie season of them all, but come on, it’s Jonas’ world, the rest of them are just living in it.

Six weeks until camp opens…

Comments (11)

  1. The people who criticized him on draft night were naive but the people who built him up as a savior are completely rational and reasonable.

    • Anyone who actually believes Valanciunas is a franchise saviour as a 20-year-old rookie big man is delusional, but you know this post was supposed to be comedic, right? There’s not actually a statue going up outside the ACC.

      • I understand that, just nitpicking at the fact that you felt you had to call the people bashing him a year ago naive/uninformed when the other end of the spectrum (especially currently) isn’t any less ridiculous.

        • Haven’t really heard anyone anoint him our saviour, actually most people seem to be level headed and expect him to go through growing pains his first season or two.

          But he is the most promising draft pick we have had it quite some time and I expect him to turn into a very good player. Saviour? No, Coach Casey is our saviour.

  2. He’s got a good coach to bring him along.

  3. The kid on the right looks shorter than the kid on the left. Tell me our latest SF/PF draft pick isn’t shorter than our latest SG draft pick.

    Saviour HA. Maybe in 3-4 years when he bulks up and learns the NBA game.

    • Nice catch. Acy is listed as 6-7, Ross as 6-6. Ross definitely looks taller in the photo. Either they’re standing in awkward positions that distort our perspective, Terrence Ross grew a couple of inches over the last month, or Quincy Acy’s 6-7 listing is very generous. I had actually seen some pre-Draft stuff that had him listed as 6-8.

    • Don’t sleep on Acy. He’s only listed at 6’8 with shoes, but despite his height, he is one of the most physically gifted players in this year’s draft.

  4. Valanciunas has massive hands. That’s a regulation sized basketball that he’s making look like a grapefruit.

  5. The read and black really suits him, I must say.

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