Throughout the NBA playoffs, where we Raptor fans are left to wallow, Raptors Republic brings you the 100 Words Series. Calling on RR writers and other Raptor scribes from around the internet and MSM, we’ll provide the Republic with 100-word takes on players, coaches, management and announcers. Look for these two or three times a week, continuing today with Jonas Valanciunas. The mission I charged the contributors with was simple: you have 100 words (prose, poetry, song, whatever) to discuss said player.
Adam Francis, Raptors HQ
My expectation for Jonas Valanciunas this past season was as follows; about six points and six rebounds a night, some solid defence, and some signs of improvement on O by season’s end. Interestingly, the inverse happened with Jonas’ offensive game being a step ahead of what most expected, with his defence and rebounding taking the bulk of the season to begin to shine through. But he averaged about 9 points, 6 boards and a block a game as a rookie, and seemed to get better with each game, a great sign for a player expected to be a major building block for the franchise going forward.
Blake Murphy, Raptors Republic
I need more than 100 words to get into Valanciunas appropriately, so look for a longer form piece sometime soon. In the meantime, here are some cool/rare/unique things The Lethaluanian did this year:
*15.6 PER, 61.8 TS%, 14.9 Rb%, 5.0 Ast%, 4.2 Blk%
*Among all rookies with 1200 minutes (Jonas played 1482), there have been just 80 players to post a PER of 15, Rb% of 14, Ast% of 4 and Blk% of 4.
*Among those 80, Jonas ranks 5th in TS% and is younger than all but four (Dwight Howard, Anthony Davis, Uncle Cliffy and Andre Drummond).
*He also has one of the highest turnover rates on this list (11th at 17.3%), the key area in which he needs to improve.
Perhaps most importantly, his best months came in March and April – he showed growth and development, and really put some lipstick on this pig of a season. I’m looking forward to watching him grow up in a Raptors uniform. More to come.
Eric Koreen, The National Post
Does anybody else see a world where Bryan Colangelo and the Raptors part ways, Valanciunas absolutely blows up next season (well, becomes a very solid starter), and every basketball writer and blogger worth his or her salt types a piece that re-assesses the Colangelo era? It happened with J.P. Ricciardi, and it just happened with Brian Burke. If Colangelo leaves, Valanciunas is the best candidate to make revisionist historians forget about the general manager’s flaws. At least in part, he will succeed. Next year, Valanciunas scratches “cult” from “cult favourite.”
Garrett Hinchey, Raptors Republic
For all of Brian Colangelo’s missteps as Raptors GM, and there have been many, let the record show that when it came to the 2011 draft, he got it so, so right. It seems crazier by the day to think that there were fans pining for Brandon Knight or Kemba Walker in his place, yet BC – incredibly, ironically, and one-time-only, as it turns out – stood pat, choosing to sacrifice wins now for a smart, sustainable pick: drafting a potential future All-Star, and a cornerstone of the franchise.
Shockingly, it worked out for him. Funny how that happens, hey Brian?
PhD Steve, Raptors Republic
Jonas is the great hope for Raptor fans right now, in that, if he turns out to be what he projects to be then all will be fine with the franchise. Unfortunately since so much hinges on him succeeding, there is little room for error. While I suspect he has what it takes to be successful the fans are now placing so much pressure on him becoming an all-star right away that if he doesnt -the fans will turn very quickly on him (remember raps fans are fickle) . That’s a lot to ask from a 2nd year center. Let’s hope he’s got big shoulders.
Patience Raps fans, patience.
RapsFan/Sam, Raptors Republic
You never trade big for short; that’s what they say (Milwaukee might have words about that), but I admit it stung when we learned that Harden was offered to Toronto for Jonas this summer, until I realized that:
a) Presti can pick talent; trading for Jonas is a serious validation of his worth
b) He finished the season on a very high note, dominating the paint on both ends of the floor, where other rookies in his class started to fade out *couch* Ross *cough*
c) Three letters: CBA … the kid has three more years on his rookie scale contract; a Godsend when you consider some of the albatross contracts on this roster
If he spends the summer working on his strength and conditioning, and developing a polished low-post game (either send him to Olajuwon or force him to watch tapes of Kevin McHale), than there’s no reason not to expect very big things from him starting next season…no pressure but this franchise is depending on you more than it should.
Tim W., Raptors Republic
What can I say about Jonas Valanciunas that I haven’t already said? He didn’t make the All Rookie first team, which doesn’t really matter, but I still disagree with. Personally, I would have put him ahead of Waiters, who’s a low efficiency chucker, and Barnes, who was solid, but unspectacular during the regular season. And I think every team in the league would trade both of them for Valanciunas.
In fact, on Bill Simmons’ annual NBA Trade Value list, the only rookies who were higher than Valanciunas were Anthony Davis (definitely agree), Bradley Beal (don’ t know if I agree, but I see the argument) and Damian Lillard (who reminds me too much of Damon Stoudamire- great numbers when he can dominate on a bad team). I think next year only Davis will be higher.
Although I’m getting this number out of thin air, I’d say there is a 75% chance Valanciunas will be an All Star within 5 years.