Over the last couple of weeks, we had kind of figured out that Jonas Valanciunas would be the Raptors starting centre when the season tipped off on Halloween, so while a good story, today’s official proclamation from Dwane Casey is hardly earth shattering.

What it did get me thinking about, though, especially with the developments in Oklahoma City over the weekend (Zach Lowe says in this Grantland piece that the Raptors were one of a few teams that “had at least semi-serious internal or external discussions on Harden”), was just how untouchable Valanciunas is as a Raptor right now.

Don’t get me wrong, he’s not fully untouchable, as that distinction should be reserved for either just LeBron James or at most, a handful of NBA players. But on this Raptors roster, Valanciunas would unquestionably carry the biggest trade value (again, Lowe’s Grantland piece insinuates that Valanciunas is one of a select few “sure-thing players in the beginning stages of his rookie deal” that the Thunder would have considered in exchange for Harden), and is the closest thing to untouchable.

I’ve compiled a list of active NBA players I would trade Valanciunas for one for one right now, and you’ll obviously notice that it’s a pretty short list. Before I reveal it, I’ll reaffirm that this list isn’t players I would trade JV for in a one season world. If it was just for 2012-13, I’d obviously trade JV for a guy like Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, etc. But with the future on the line and a still (re)building franchise, you don’t trade a potential franchise centre at 20-years-old for a Hall of Famer over 30.

I also don’t think you can trade JV for All Stars in their prime who aren’t elite game changers. Think LaMarcus Aldridge and Marc Gasol, two guys I’d love to have on my team, but not at the expense of the untapped potential in Valanciunas.

Furthermore, there are other young players in the NBA who are clearly better than Valanciunas right now, but for me to be willing to trade Valanciunas for said player, I’d have to be absolutely convinced that the player in question is a better option than JV for the future. Going back to Harden – He’s an incredibly efficient young shooting guard who I think is a top-five player at his position, and he’s going to be more valuable than Jonas in 2012-13 and 2013-14. But am I absolutely convinced that he’ll be the more impactful player long term than a potential franchise centre? No, so even a guy of Harden’s ability doesn’t make the “absolutely” list.

There are also young studs out there who anyone want long term at peak performance, but injury concerns would ultimately scare me away (think Andrew Bynum, Stephen Curry, Ricky Rubio, Eric Gordon, etc.).

Lastly, you have to understand where I see Valanciunas’ ceiling. He’ll never be as physically dominant or impactful as Dwight Howard, and as long as Dwight’s in the league at or near his prime, Jonas can never be the best centre in the NBA, but I do believe he can evolve into one of the game’s top two or three centres during his prime years.

Think of that ceiling, and the fact that a dominant post presence is becoming a rare commodity in today’s NBA, as the reasoning behind this short list.

Alright, enough chit chat, here’s the very selective list of NBA players I would trade Jonas Valanciunas for one for one right now (I obviously don’t expect that any of these players would be made available):

- LeBron James

- Kevin Durant

- Dwight Howard (Only if I was guaranteed to re-sign Howard to a long term extension as part of the trade)

- Chris Paul (Same stipulation as above)

- Anthony Davis

- Derrick Rose

- Russell Westbrook

- Kevin Love

- Kyrie Irving, Blake Griffin, Rajon Rondo and James Harden are all guys I’d seriously consider trading Valanciunas for, but unlike the eight names above, I wouldn’t be able to make those deals without blinking.

So if you’re proposing a one-for-one trade for Valanciunas and you’re not bringing one of the aforementioned superstars to the table, maybe don’t come a knockin’, because chances are, I’m not talkin’.

Alright, now I prepare for your ridicule, scorn and offers for mental health help.

Comments (26)

  1. Add Noah to that list.

  2. Serious Comment for Serious Comment section readers: It seems like a short list, but if you go through each roster and really evaluate who’s who, with injury concerns and whatnot, it makes sense.

    Face value evaluation for those who click YouTube links: http://youtu.be/v1PBptSDIh8

  3. Seriously? Like JV is a solid prospect and could become elite, but even his upside isn’t much better than say Marc Gasol or Hibbert.
    To that list i’d add:
    -Deron Williams
    - Lamarcus Aldridge
    - Roy Hibbert
    - Marc Gasol
    - Andrew Bynum (even with injuries hes too good)
    - Carmelo Anthony ( not the best – but the raptors need a sf)
    - Dwayne Wade
    - Rajon Rondo
    - Kyrie Irving
    - Josh Smith ( with an extension)

    • What are you smoking? Andrew Bynum is injure prone.

    • Hibbert? You don’t think JV can average more than 13 pts and 9 boards? I know he played well in some games against Miami but his average are not great and he can’t handle playing heavy minutes.

      Gasol I like, I’d be pleasantly surprised if JV became close to as gifted a passer, but I imagine JV will be much more of a rim protector and hopefully as close to a skilled shooter as Gasol from just above the free throw line.

  4. I wouldn’t trade JV for Blake Griffin or Kevin Love unless it was worst case scenario.

    • Griffin does scare me because of the knee issues, and as you commented, I was in the process of adding a line beside his name.

      As for Love, I’ve been one of the doubters over the last couple of years and would like to see him improve defensively, but at some point, the numbers don’t lie, and all of the numbers indicate the guy’s a top-10 player at 24-years-old.

      • Griffin should scare you because of his inability to hit free throws, which means on a close games you would need to take him out from the offense. Would you want to have such a player?

  5. You’re not completely crazy.

    There’s a lot of value in potential and the unknown especially when it comes to someone like Val who hasn’t played a game yet. At this point, you can pretty much project him to be Wilt Chamberlain if you want and who can argue against you? We don’t know that he won’t be Wilt Chamberlain.

    This would be an interesting question to come back to in a year especially when you see him play for a season and realize that he’s closer to Andrew Bogut then maybe an all-time great. This post will probably seem a lot more crazy then.

    • Won’t argue with that comment, but that’s part of my point. Since we don’t actually know just how high his ceiling is or how potentially average he is (though he certainly doesn’t look average), it’s hard to come up with guys you’d trade him for outside of the NBA’s absolute elite.

  6. I know you didn’t consider this, but if you think about the thought process of the other teams your list makes sense. None of the teams would say yes to a straight up trade for their star. But would Memphis trade JV and would the Pacers trade Hibbert for JV? Of course they would.

    • Gasol I meant….that takes into consideration salaries and the rest of their roster as well. I know both teams have hopes of contending and a trade would diminish that, but let’s be real.

  7. I agree with everything on this board except what this “mess” is trying to include in the conversation….dude sounds like a real estate agent or something

  8. How about…

    Rajon Rondo
    John Wall
    Kyrie Irving
    Derrick Favors

    • Forget about Irving (you have him already)

      • My bad on Rondo, had him in my “would think about it” category on paper, but forgot to type his name in.

        I like Favors, but again, is he good enough to absolutely be the better prospect over JV?

        As for Wall, I’m not sold on him at all, and certainly wouldn’t trade Valanciunas for him.

  9. I think you could pretty much include any of the four big men on Utah on that list… Including Kanter who looks like a monster so far this preseason.

  10. I’d agree but I’d go even further.

    I remember an article on RealGM talking about how the center position has the ability impact the game more than the PG position, in large part because he can impact the game more on defense.

    For that reason, I’d choose Valanciunas over Irving and Westbrook, both of whom are very good, but I don’t consider elite (Westbrook is way too mistake prone for my liking).

    And while it’s impossible to say just how good Valanciunas will be, I think he’ll end up being a top 3 center, at some point.

    I’d also hesitate taking Griffin and Love over Valanciunas because neither make a big impact on defense.

    I think that’s the most important part of the equation. Guys like Griffin or Love certainly are perennial All-Stars, but we’ve seen how having a great offensive PF who can grab boards, but isn’t a great defensive player, isn’t going to be able to make as much of an impact in the win column as a center that plays both ends of the floor.

  11. It’s a fun thought experiment, and I agree with BP that it would be interesting to revisit this in a year.

    I wonder though if people overvalue having a stud C, or PG for that matter. The Bulls dynasty never had a great player at either position. Same for the Heat last year. If we’re just talking the C position, think about the Thunder, or those Jazz teams from the 90s.
    Maybe positions matter less and the key is just having a dominant player (or two) surrounded by the right types of role players.

    Anyway, the other thing that makes trading JV very difficult is his contract. I might be more inclined to trade him for Kyrie than Rondo for that reason, but I’d probably deal for Rondo or any young player that is an elite-level talent if there was contract security. To me, JV’s ceiling looks like a cross between Noah and Chandler with a better post game and jumper. I don’t see a dominant force like Howard, Shaq, or Hakeem and David Robinson. Still a very good 2-way player, but I don’t know that he’s going to have the impact of a guy like Rondo. Who the hell knows though…

    • Good post – agree with your view of JV.

      I read Zack Lowe’s Grantland article and went back and forth on whether you’d trade him for Harden, but in the end I think you make that deal, though it’s be no means an easy call. I think Harden is now, weirdly, underrated based on his poor finals performance, but will be a top 10 player now that he’s on a team that will feature him. He also makes plays and would make those around him better. Plus he’s just so damn fun to watch.

  12. I hurt every time I remember that we could’ve had Aldridge instead of Barney.

  13. It’s an interesting exercise, but I disagree with the point that C is more important than the other positions to make that large of a difference in this context. The “best player” on the top 10 players in the league last year included: Derrick Rose (PG), Tony Parker (PG), Kevin Durant (SF), Lebron James (SF), Danny Granger (SF)/Roy Hibbert (C) (toss-up), Kobe Bryant (SG)/Andrew Bynum (C), Marc Gasol (C), Chris Paul (PG), Joe Johnson (SG)/Josh Smith (PF), Rajon Rondo (PG)/Kevin Garnett (PF). So centers are represented but a lot of elite teams did it headlined by other positions.

    Also to me the center position just got loaded in a hurry. IMO blue chip centers: Howard, Bynum, Monroe, Cousins, Noah, Hibbert, Marc Gasol, Chandler, Nene, Duncan, KG (11). Red chip: Al Jefferson, Gortat, Pekovic, Varejao, Asik (5). And I’m not including McGee or Jordan or Favors on this list cause I hate their game, but they could be argued as red chip talent.

    And it’s going to get better for centers considering the last 2 drafts and C prospects dominating the 2013 one

  14. Irving vs Valanciunas really shouldn’t be a discussion, in terms of which one to take right now. Irving had the highest PER ever for a rookie under 20 years old and he did this after playing less than 1/3 of a college season. He can get into the paint and finish at will, is already one of the shooters in the league and has a perfect feel for the game. Irving’s early career resume is that of a future MVP contender, if not winner

  15. I’m honestly surprised about the inclusion of DRose as a FOR SURE…
    This is the second time he’s coming back from a knee injury and I don’t think he’ll be a game changing player (as much) the second time around. Call me crazy, but the emotional break he had at the Adidas pressy made me even second guess whether he’ll make it back in the elite levels.
    Also, I write this knowing I’m going to get crucified by DRose fans… I love the guy, but having an injury like this a second time in a young career, in a city (and with an advertising contract) that’s putting THAT MUCH pressure on him… seems like a recipe for disaster.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *