Archive for the ‘Jonas Valanciunas’ Category

Phoenix Suns v Toronto Raptors

With Summer League behind us, Drew, Oliver and I got together to discuss Jonas Valanciunas’ dominance (and his MVP award), the other Raptors in Vegas, Toronto’s acquisitions since the last time we spoke (Hansbrough, Buycks and Augustin) and what we can expect from this team if this is the roster they go with in 2013-14.

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Jonas Valanciunas’ well documented Summer League dominance and the tournament’s MVP award that followed has Raptors fans understandably optimistic about his role as a legitimate building block for the future.

As I’ve mentioned countless times over the last couple of weeks, for me, it wasn’t about the numbers Valanciunas posted in Las Vegas (where numbers often lie), but rather about the progress being made in his rapidly developing game.

Jonas is a 21-year-old seven-footer with an actual post game, which is more than you can say about a lot of veteran NBA big men today, let alone rookie and sophomore big men. He’s already at a point where he’s finishing with both hands around the rim, effectively uses a hook shot, he runs the floor about as well as you can ask a seven-footer to, he alters shots and protects the rim on defence and he rebounds.

He’s far from a finished product and he still has plenty of room for improvement on both ends of the floor, but at 21, you can make the argument that Valanciunas is already the most valuable piece of the Raptors’ potential success, both in the short term and the long term.

But just what exactly is the 21-year-old’s value?

Before his rookie season got underway, I wrote a post about how untouchable I considered Valanciunas to be. In hindsight, that extremely short list was probably too selective, but at the time, I couldn’t bring myself to fake-trade the youngster before even getting glimpse of him in the NBA.

A year later, with an NBA season under his belt, Valanciunas looking like a star big man in the making and some other young players rising up in the Association, I thought I’d revisit the list.

Here’s the deal. I ask myself, in some alternate reality universe where contracts and salary matching under the CBA are not┬átaken into account during trades and if in some alternate universe every single player in the NBA was available in a one-for-one trade involving Valanciuans, would I pull the trigger on that trade at this stage in each player’s career?

The “this stage of his career” component is a big part of this. There are plenty of guys playing right now who are still stars and whose careers Valanciunas will likely never match, but I don’t think anyone in their right mind would trade Valanciunas for a 34-year-old Kobe Bryant. I’d trade him for a 25-year-old Chris Bosh, for example, but not for 29-year-old Chris Bosh. ┬áKeep that it mind when you’re wondering where guys like Kobe, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Dwyane Wade are on this list.

Now without further ado, here’s the still very selective list of NBA players I would trade Jonas Valanciunas for in 2013…

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Toronto Raptors v.  San Antonio Spurs

While I’m firmly entrenched in the “don’t ready anything into Summer League” camp and I don’t pay attention to the numbers posted in Vegas, there are always observations you can take away from watching guys play at any level.

On that note, here’s a little bit of what we learned from the Raptors at the annual Las Vegas Summer League…

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It’s obviously just meant to be a funny mock interview between two teammates, but Jonas Valanciunas’ “It’s been fu**ed, man” comments to DeMar DeRozan about Summer League have gotten some play around the internet today, especially through social media.

Valanciunas also pokes fun at teammates Terrence Ross and Quincy Acy and jokes that he won’t take anything from his first Summer League experience.

Here’s the thing, while Jonas may have been joking around in a general sense and while I imagine the team might mention something to him about videos like this in the future, the Raptors big man has a point.

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Summer League is a young man’s game, but add a more polished beast to the mix and those young men are reduced to boys. Case in point, Saturday night in Las Vegas where a bulked up Jonas Valanciunas physically dominated anyone and everyone Miami’s Summer League team threw at him.

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