Heading in to these Olympics, one of the players NBA fans were most excited to see was Lithuania’s Jonas Valanciunas. Not only was he a lottery pick in the 2011 draft, there were rumors he’d go No. 2 in this year’s draft, right behind the unibrowed Anthony Davis. That’s how good people think he is and this would be his biggest stage. By playing against NBA competition every single game, we’d finally be able to give Kenny Smith some Raptor news and see how Jonas measured up.
The results? Not so good. He never played more than 16 minutes and often played less than 10. He never scored more than seven points in a game and managed five or more rebounds just three times, while being in constant foul trouble and looking very slow defensively when forced out of his comfort zone, even though he made the right decisions. Basically, he looked like a 20-year-old playing against grown men while being coached by a guy who wanted to give his veteran squad its best chance to win a medal.
However, according to Doug Smith of the Toronto Star, he did eventually learn one very important lesson in London.
After introducing myself as a scribbler from Toronto, to which he replied “good to meet you” and that puts him ahead in my books, first question out was what did you learn here?
“I learned how not to foul out.”
Now that, my friends, is a valuable lesson. Just ask Greg Oden (don’t mention the knees). Once you learn how to play defense without hacking everybody who comes near you, you can actually stay on the court, which is very important when it comes to playing basketball. Someday, David Lee might even learn about it.
So there you go, Raptor fans. Maybe the tournament wasn’t the most exciting thing you could hope to see from a future player, but at least he learned something that’s going to come in handy in the future. Then once he learns how to complain any time a foul is called on him, he’ll truly be NBA ready.