Welcome YO-nahs vah-lahn-CHEW-nahs!

High expectations.

The Raptors finally announced it:

“We are very pleased to welcome Jonas to the organization,” said Raptors President and General Manager Bryan Colangelo. “We are certain that Raptors fans will soon realize that the year-long process was worth the wait.”

Hell yes! Plan the parade, make sure the Spadina/King construction is over!

Jonas will be walking into the ACC this fall LIKE A BOSS! There’s no shortage of exclamation marks here! Really! There aren’t! This is it, boys and girls, this is what Jay Triano’s unintended yet fantastic efforts of tanking has bought us: Jonas Valanciunas. This is the man the rebuild hinges over, it’s not Ross, not Bargnani, certainly not DeRozan or Davis, it’s Jonas YO-nahs vah-lahn-CHEW-nahs! He’s like the Wolf from Pulp Fiction, he’s been called upon because times are tough and someone was needed to save the day, so he has arrived. LIKE A BOSS.

I can’t recall a time when a Raptors draft pick was counted on as much as we’re relying on Jonas. Maybe Damon, but that doesn’t count since the franchise was spanking new. Bargnani? We all knew deep in our hearts that that was a weak draft, any other year and he would’ve gone 5-7. Bosh? It’s known that we were a pick too low in that draft. At this juncture for this franchise, with no shining beacon in the arsenal or even anyone you can seriously hang the word ‘potential’ over, Jonas is stepping in with all of us biting our teeth that he “pans out” in the same degree as someone like Vince Carter did for us. For Jonas, becoming as good as Bargnani doesn’t cut it, if he’s at a DeRozan level then he’s a bad pick, and I won’t even touch Ed Davis.

The Raptors are used to setting the bar low for their picks but here’s a situation where that is out of the question. Failure or mediocrity is not an option. Sure, he’s only 20 years old and hasn’t played a single game, but that buys him a max of two years to show something that gets people to buy season seats, because Landry Fields sure as hell isn’t going to do it. I doubt this young man even knows how much his arrival is being counted on by the fans, who are desperate for something actually positive (not just painted as positive by a bored and hopeful media/fanbase). He’s Bryan Colangelo’s last dollar in a game of roulette, and if this flops like his other picks and signings, it’s game over.

The limited that I’ve seen of him, he’s got virtually no offensive game at this point, and feeds off two-man action, boards, and setups. That is perfect fine, that’s how Dwight Howard was his first year (and arguably still is). Jonas is the guy who’s expected to grow into a player that will get you on ESPN, and I don’t mean SportsCenter. Reading Raul’s reports from the Olympic qualifying, and checking whatever YouTube I can, it’s clear that what we’re importing is a raw product, perhaps even rawer than Bargnani. In this case, however, his specialty is rebounding and defense which is much easier to translate to the NBA than Bargnani’s repertoire (which at the time was shooting and step-back shooting).

So here’s what I expect from Jonas this year.

– A starting role playing 35 minutes a night
– 8-10 rebounds
– 8 points
– 50-60 charges drawn
– A key part of Casey’s zone defense
– A threat on the pick ‘n roll who invites contact
– No expectation on blocks, just be a contest presence and don’t get injured

I’d say those are expectations that are on the low side, except maybe the charges, but the refs loves calling charges so if you’re an above-average defender in reality, you could look really good.

On to summer league, Terrence Ross scored a bunch to get the Raptors their first win of the pre-season. Video and recap here, he’s got a nice dunk in there.

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