Do you need a dominant big man to win the NBA title? The Heat’s two titles say otherwise, but they remain an exception due to having LeBron James, much like Michael Jordan’s Bulls who won with Luc Longley in the middle. The Spurs (Tim Duncan), Lakers (Shaquille O’Neal), Heat without James (Shaquille O’Neal), Detroit Pistons (Ben Wallace, a 4-time DPOY) and Dallas Mavericks (Dirk Nowtizki) have had dominant front-court players who are arguably the best at their position.

History has shown that you can make do without them, but you better have transcendental wing players – we’re talking first-ballot Hall of Famers – if you don’t. Obviously, the Raptors in their quiet but hopeful quest for a title (or at the very least, an Eastern Conference crown) don’t possess either. They do have good players at every position and are allegedly constructed to rely on defense first with Dwane Casey at the helm, yet they lack that one player who dominates his position.

When you examine the roster and see which player has the potential to get there, the debate can possibly boil down to DeMar DeRozan, Jonas Valanciunas, or if you’re really hopeful, Terrence Ross. I’m not going to add Kyle Lowry to that list, because as great as he’s been, he’s a known quantity in the league that may very well improve, but whose ceiling is probably known and it’s not at Chris Paul-levels.

DeRozan may very well elevate his offensive game to Kobe Bryant-levels, though entering his sixth year it’s probably a long-shot, but I remain hopeful mostly because he has been working very hard over every summer. The enigma here is Jonas Valanciunas, whose projection remains very difficult to make because despite having performed well, it’s hard to pin down just what his go-to strengths are. He’s done many things very well, and yet I remain stumped as to what part of his game can be scaled to reach a dominant level.

There’s already strong evidence that his sense for the game is excellent. Other than occasions where he’s caught unaware of patrolling guards trying to swipe at him, his positional awareness with and without the ball is very good. His hesitation on the mid-range jumper aside, Valanciunas knows what areas on the court he needs to be in to get his points. Take this play for example, where he reads the Patterson drive and shifts from the baseline to the middle, which makes all the difference:

His highlights are littered with this sort of subtle, intelligent play which is found lacking in big men at his stage of development. No matter how impressive this sort of game awareness is, this alone cannot turn him into an elite player, one that could be the center-piece of a title winner. Excelling in these areas means that you’re going to have an NBA job for years to come, not make the All-Star team year in and year out. More than anything, it means that he can make reads which is fundamental to future success. Without this baseline understanding of how the game is played, a player, no matter how talented, will be destined to be a by-stander than an active participant as the action happens.

This is especially true for big men because as guards continue to dominate the ball, big men are relying more and more on making themselves useful on offense through their off-the-ball movement than simply waiting for the ball to be passed to them. Those days – the Patrick Ewing days – are long gone.  In fact, even Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol are starved for touches these days.

Pick ‘n roll play is another area where Valanciunas is exceptional, and one where he hasn’t been involved nearly enough given his capacity for the play. What is not talked about enough is that Valanciunas is equally proficient at the play from either side of the court. His aforementioned positional awareness and tendency to find the seam without picking up an offense foul is greatly underplayed. As long back as when he was in Europe did Valanciunas show that he was a capable option in two-man situations. Take this skill over to the NBA where there’s a defensive three-second rule prohibiting defenses to clog up the paint easily, and this becomes a major advantage of Valanciunas. Take for example this play where he’s set a great screen, rolled well, shielded the ball, and brought it to the other side for a layup.

I’m not going to dwell on his jumper much, because that is a matter of practice. A mid-range jumper might be the easiest aspect of his game to enhance because his shooting motion is adequate, he’s hit 34% of his mid-range shots last year (down from 41% his rookie year), which is not great but enough to build on.

It’s his back-to-the-basket game that can take him from being a good player to a great one. If he develops this section of his arsenal and his jump shot improves linearly and becomes average, a projection like Pau Gasol doesn’t sound like total madness. The good news is that it certainly appears that he’s got the mentality and foundational moves to be a good post-player. His up-and-under, turnaround, spin, and hook shots are of good quality, and that’s all in addition to his excellent (and I can’t overstate this) finishing ability from every angle near the rim – the man simply knows when to use glass, and when to not, which alone has proven to be a downfall of many a big man. Here’s a great move against Zach Randolph, which leaves you wanting for more:

The bad news is that he currently plays on a very guard-dominant team and has a relatively short leash. Take a look at his front-court touches per game, which basically eliminates the case where he touches the ball when in-bounding after made baskets.


You see that he’s behind players like Terrence Ross, Patrick Patterson, and John Salmons – this needs to change. The verdict on his passing isn’t out yet, and the Raptors need to test just how capable he is and whether he’s able to play a role similar to Josh McRoberts when he was in the high-post in Charlotte, or even Tyson Chandler or Dirk Nowtizki in Dallas – because, if Valanciunas excels at that, the Raptors socialist offense takes itself to a whole new level.

There’s another area of his game where he’s improving at a steady rate, and that’s transition. He looks to beat his man down the court, notably in the first half of games. He may not do it against mobile big men like Chris Bosh, but if he spots someone like Marcin Gortat checking him, he’ll make the push to get down after missed baskets. Something small, but important to note.

His defense is probably a topic for another post, and I’ll be the first to admit that he’s far from being astounding in this category. As a rebounder, he tends to get caught watching the play and doesn’t know when to switch from ball-defending mode to rebound-positioning mode, which leaves him susceptible for giving up offensive rebounds. If you tell Valanciunas that his #1 job out there is rebounding, he’s able to get the job done to a high degree of quality because he’ll basically shut off any help-defense sense that he has and focus entirely on positioning and likely beat out his man. It’s finding the right balance that he hasn’t mastered yet.

What the Raptors have here is a plant that needs water, lots of it.  There were some reports that next year would be the one where Dwane Casey would finally hold Valanciunas accountable and make him pay for his lapses.  I feel that that’s a very unwarranted approach for two reasons: 1) He already gets the hook when he plays badly so accelerating that hook would be harsh, and 2) He’s shown enough in a limited offensive role that he deserves to be a larger part of the offense, and with that come growing pains where a heavy hand may not be the best approach.

Valanciunas, entering his third season, still needs time and patience.  He hasn’t been afforded the zero-pressure seasons that DeMar DeRozan or Chris Bosh had where they developed their individual games in meaningless seasons.   He’s had to do his development entirely within a team setup and that will invariably slow it down, again, especially for his position.  What the Raptors have here is pure potential, and more importantly, a player that has already validated many an assumption made when he was drafted.  Give the man time, he’ll shine.

  • Roarque

    “The verdict on his passing isn’t in yet” is what I’d write.

    “What the Raptors have here is a plant that needs water, lots of it” is inspired writing

  • Jordan Schrock

    Has Jonas worked out with Hakeem this off season? I read he was going to but haven’t seen anything since. Also there is only 1 e in shaquille

  • afrocarter

    I couldn’t be less concerned about JV’s offense. Sure, he could use more touches, but he’s not going to get them until he improves on the defensive end. I wouldn’t say he “deserves” a larger role on offense — not until he shows that he can consistently fulfill his duties on the opposite end of the court.

    • truth be told


      He currently does not fulfill his duties consistently on that end of the floor.

    • Jamshid

      I totally agree with you. In order for this team to become anything that can compete for #1 seed in the East, we need Big Val to become a defensive centre. Offence should be the last thing in his mind and the lack of touches should not bother him. He needs to take pride in the defence and his goal should be to become the top 3 defensive Centre in the league.

      I really hope Casey push him in this regard and does not take it easy on him. We don’t need to baby another young talent in this team and cater to his needs on a silver platter.

      • Abused Raptors Fan

        While the Raptors obviously need JV to significantly increase his defensive impact for this team to legitimately contend in the East, I do not see that and his offensive development as mutually exclusive objectives. Unlike Andrea, “catering” to JVs needs on the offensive end – via the PnR, post-ups and mid-range touches – actually improves his defensive production and intensity. So, in this case, it’s not babying JV so much as using offensive touches as a form of positive reinforcement. Ideally, you’d like to see consistent effort/production regardless of how many touches a player receives, but JV is fairly typical in this regard. In the end, it’s more about being involved and participating on the offensive end of the floor than the number of touches/post-ups. By utilizing the PnR better next season, the Raptors could have an easy remedy for this situation for all their big men, not just JV.

        • raptorstand

          Abused Raptor Fan , you are a massive brain enhanced person. The unwavering clear sighted understanding of the problem and the cure are refreshing and a pleasure to read. I bow before your great understanding. Thank you for posting , and hope to see more of it. Your fingers to Casey’s ears.

      • CJT

        Have you ever played ball? It is ridiculous to say that one shouldn’t care that they are doing all the hard work on defense only to be ignored at the offensive end of the court. Kids don’t start playing ball to become shot blockers and rebounders. If you are doing all the defensive work and your team doesn’t look for you on the offensive end of the court to reward you for your effort, there is less incentive to work hard for those teammates.

        • Jamshid

          Obviously the only ridiculous thing here is to think these guys are bunch of KIDS who need to score and be involved in the offence ( as INCENTIVE) so they play DEFENCE.

          This is NBA and not some pick up ball at a high school GYM. These guys are getting paid MILLIONS of dollars to do a JOB !!! It is their RESPONSIBILITY based on the CONTRACTS that they have signed.

          In a well coached team each player has ROLE and has a RESPONSIBILITY and operates within those boundaries. This is how teams like Spurs are successful because everyone knows their LIMITATION and what they are suppose to do and are HAPPY to do their part.

          With 2 elite ALL STAR offence player in this team, JV’s main job is the defence and attacking the board and … he needs to learn to have FUN and enjoy his JOB because he is getting paid a ton of money to do this job.

          • CJT

            I couldn’t disagree more with you. These are kids. 20 year old kids. And it is not like JV doesn’t have offensive talent. I think as the author mentions, he has not been used correctly and that is what has held back his offensive numbers. It has been mentioned a number of times by many others that DD has always had a habit of forcing shots, if throwing the ball in to JV creates an opportunity for him to score OR opens up other shooters for him to pass to, then doesn’t that make more sense AND involve JV more in the offence?

            And it is commonly known that people do not get any increased personal satisfaction out of making money. If you have someone who hates their job, paying them more will result in a very short term spike in happiness and then that person will hate their higher paying job. It is no different for NBA players. If they feel uninvolved and under-utilized they will under perform. Doesn’t matter who much money they make.

            It doesn’t take much observation to realize that there are a lot of unhappy players in the NBA who feel that they deserve more minutes, more touches, a bigger role. Isn’t that why there is so much player movement? The promise of more involvement.

            Having 2 all star calibre players on the Raps is great and I am happy to have them. I think JV can make their job easier, help them get more rest so that they are not playing 40 minutes a game like they did last year.

            The Spurs also trust that in their system the ball moves and everyone gets touches. Duncan, Parker etc. rest a lot and the bench players play a much bigger role for them. That is why they are happy and work hard.

            • Jamshid

              There are parts of your post that I totally disagree with see no point of continuing to discuss it and I guess we have to agree to disagree on those. HOWEVER, on the last part of your post you are suddenly talking about ball movement and getting J.V. involved in the offence to create better opportunities for the rest of the team.

              I am going to talk on my behalf but I am sure almost 90% of people who say that J.V. needs to be focused on the defence and not worry about his offence are NOT against BALL MOVEMENT.

              BALL MOVEMENT and creating the spacing and … is all GIVEN. That is part of the game and you have to be fool to want to ignore it. No one here is talking about ignoring a player on offence when we say we want J.V. to focus on defence.

              Was Big Ben ignored on the offensive end in Detroit ?? Was T.C. ignored on the offensive end at Dallas ? The ANSWER IS NO … But all those guys’ first priority was defence.

              What I am against is force feeding a player on the offence with the excuse that we need to keep him happy so HE PLAYS DEFENCE !!!!!

              That makes no sense to me. He needs to play DEFENCE because that is part of his job and his assignment !!!

              I am against force feeding and changing game plans so player J.V. can get more touches while going through DD or Lowry or Amir or Ross will be more efficient and will create higher percentage shots !!!

              We need to do what is BEST for the team and that means in the offence GOING through our BEST OFFENSIVE players and not just trying to make guys happy on offence so they play defence on the other side of the floor.

              At the end , it is all about the TEAM and not individuals … This is Toronto Raptors and not J.V. Developmental private Ball Club.

              • raptorstand

                Can you imagine what would happen if JV could command a double team every time he touches the ball ?? Just think the lanes and the shooting opportunities for DD and Tross , let alone Kyle. I think right now 50% of the NBA don’t have an answer for JV, and over the next couple of years that number climbs. Repetition on the defensive end , playing with the same players are going to make him dominate on the defensive end. JV needs to be the big dog the focus , and everyone around him will definitely become better around him. You seem to think he is a TC or Big Ben, and I see him being better then them by far, if the coach is able to do his job and get him to the next level.

                • Jamshid

                  You make some bold claims that I don’t think any statistics can back them up right.

                  “Can you imagine what would happen if JV could command a double team every time he touches the ball ??”

                  – Well, he is not doing that right now and every time a double team comes, he panics and has a turn over so till he learns that, I would want Casey to go to guys who are better options.

                  “I think right now 50% of the NBA don’t have an answer for JV”

                  – I find that very hard to believe or his numbers would have been much better. Again, he does have the potential, the size and … to get there but that requires time and commitment to excellence and is not a given fact.

                  “JV needs to be the big dog the focus , and everyone around him will definitely become better around him”

                  -Sure, if you feel that way that is fine but I am sure Lowry and DD don’t think so. For J.V. to become the big Dog, he needs to act like a big dog and get his own. Big Dogs don’t need the coach to deliver them their food. Again, I have no problem with some of the offence to go through J.V. as LONG as he is efficient and can deliver. I have a problem when people want to FORCE FEED the offence through J.V. while RIGHT NOW we have a much more mature offensive weapons in team JUST because they think J.V. has potential , J.V. needs to be fed in offence to do the defence.

                  “You seem to think he is a TC or Big Ben, and I see him being better then them by far, if the coach is able to do his job and get him to the next level.”

                  – As of today, there is no evidence that suggest that. He is not even playing close to the same level of these guys. Maybe in FUTURE ( 2-3 years) from now he can become better than both of them !!! Who knows !! Maybe in 3-5 years he can become the dominate Center in the league but right now, he is NOT.

                  Right now, this team is ready to compete and we do have better offensive options and we do not need to BABY a player on offensive end so that he does us a favour by playing DEFENCE.

                  That makes no sense unless we were tanking and our goal was to develop J.V. and Ross and compete in 3-5 years ….

                • raptorstand

                  The capitalization of your words is very annoying. Its like having someone poke you with their finger in your chest when your trying to have a rational discussion. Real life, one poke from you and you are on the floor. Maybe you need to learn that in the real world. But on to your comments, JV has a lot to prove, I agree, I think he is capable of being very dominant in this league if his maturity coincides with great coaching. I don’t know if your to young to know who Sabonis is , if you don’t look him up. That is the type of player I think Jonas can be if he settles down and the coaches coach. Have an nice day .

  • raptorstand

    The only thing Jonas needs is the coach to fall in love with him. We lost the last 2 games of the season last year because Jonas never seen the ball. If we go low , the d collapses and our shooters become open. He doesn’t have to make plays he has to facilitate from the low post on a consistent basis and everything opens up for our shooters. It is totally up to the coach how far Jonas goes. Dwayne Casey lost those last 2 games of the season because he didn’t understand we had to take it to them with our strength which was Jonas. He was out coached and I hope he learned from this. Jonas is a player , just wish he had a coach like San Antonio that understands the advantage of facilitating out of the low post by your big man.

    • afrocarter

      This would be great if JV had shown that he was capable of passing out of a collapsed defense (as opposed to being continually stripped by the help defense).

      • raptorstand

        Give him a chance , look at him twice at the start of the game and never look at him again ?? Jesus , do you even watch the same games I do ? The guy needs to learn in game situations and I have seen him succeed far more times then I have seen him fail when given half a chance. The kid runs up and down the court never getting looks getting frustrated, but its his fault that the one time he gets a touch he fumbles the ball , because he has to get his. Run the ball through him 50 percent of the set offence and we do better then if we didn’t .

        • afrocarter

          You spoke in one of your other comments about not wanting to baby another young talent — this is a perfect example of an opportunity to walk that walk. Why insist on providing JV with touches down low if 1) he fails to show good passing and court awareness in the low post, and 2) doesn’t put in the required amount of effort on defense?

          • raptorstand

            Why insist ?? Because he needs the confidence on that end of the floor to make this team better. Its fun to score , to play pick and roll to set up other team mates. When the man gets two touches at the start of the game, has success and is never looked at again , its really tough to watch as a fan let alone being the player. He dominates at the offensive end he dominates at the defensive end. He has to be the big dog on the floor and if he isn’t , its just a fing waste.

            • afrocarter

              That’s just it: he doesn’t dominate on the defensive end, and in Casey’s system defense is top priority, especially for the center position. Getting JV more involved in the “fun” stuff (offense) despite his defensive lapses would only reinforce his bad habits.

              • raptorstand

                That’s just it. To be the well rounded player he can be he needs success at both ends of the floor , by completely shutting him out of the offensive end most of the games I have watched just lets him drift on the defensive end because he feels the injustice of it. And I don’t blame him. Running up and down the court continuously without any looks gets pretty fing futile after awhile. That’s just the mind set of coaching and I think Casey has failed JV horribly. JV is an amazing player when he is engaged at both ends, this BS of eviscerating him at the offensive end because he needs to learn the defensive end is head up the ass thinking . I repeat San Antonio understands how to play through their big men .

                • afrocarter

                  Well, he knows what he needs to do to get more touches: do his job and be more active on the defensive end. Whining about it isn’t going to help him. I agree with you that JV is a good player; what Casey’s challenge is now is to ensure that JV’s priorities run parallel to the team’s: defense first.

                • raptorstand

                  That’s just it . When he has success on the defensive end of the court, nobody looks at him at the other end, over and over again. When he fails on the defensive end , hes yanked. I understand benching , and I also understand bad coaching. The start of the game ,they go low twice and have success, and then never look at him again for the half, is absolutely mind boggling for me. This is our guy, he wants to be the big dog on both ends , when he is out there he should be the focus of the offense 50 % of the time , most teams would not have an answer for him , and Demar Tross and Lowry would get much better looks. The kid would be amazing if the team would let him be the leader he can be.

                • afrocarter

                  You’re over-generalizing, making sweeping, all-encompassing statements in order to prove your point. JV isn’t ignored when he plays well on defense. Sure, he may not get the rock on the very next possession, but whatever. The team is bursting at the seams with offensive weapons, so at the end of the day, the team needs JV to play good defense wayyy more than good offense.

                • raptorstand

                  The team needs JV to be the player he can be coached to be. He needs to be the big dog and it will make everyone better. And this BS about over generalizing sweeping statements, is just the way I see it. You don’t like the way I see it , don’t fing bother me anymore. But if Casey keeps running 2 plays at the start of the game and never looking at him again there is the distinct possibility this coach could lose him. Jonas is a emotional guy , he feels loved and wanted he becomes amazing. He feels insulted and under utilized he becomes a very average player. I understand that that is growing up, but its also coaching . Casey could lose him.

                • Jamshid

                  “The team is bursting at the seams with offensive weapons, so at the end of the day, the team needs JV to play good defence way more than good offence.”

                  This is it ….

                  This team has 2 players and I dare to say 3 players that are so much better than JV in the offence but some fans can not just see it. Everyone has a responsibility in the team. It is not a pick up ball and it is not suppose to be all about having fun. These guys are getting MILLIONS of dollars to do a JOB.

                  It is about the TEAM. It is about wining. It is about doing YOUR PART for the betterment of the team. For this team with the elite offensive stars, JV is suppose to be the defensive guy. People love to talk about Detroit piston at the Big Ben era. Big Ben was the defensive Star of that team and was not the focal point on the offence. At the same time, he was one of the most important players on that team.

                  Same goes to Mavs with T.C. when the won the ring few years ago. He was not the offensive focal point but the defensive corner stone of the team and that is how they WON !!!

                  So this is about JV to accept and realize his role in this team as a 3rd year C. He is not an ALL STAR and we have 2 ALL STARS in this team. His role is defence. His fans need to understand that and get off Coach Casey’s back.

                  I can already see the season where after each loss, JV’s fan will attack Casey and DD for not getting the ball on the offence and … The sooner these guys and JV realize that his RESPONSIBILITIES are not offence and he is not getting paid MILLIONS of DOLLARS to play offence, the better this team will be.

          • Alex Vostrikov

            thats one way to put it…
            and then you have…..
            jv actually the one player who moves none stop, on D or offence. and please, if you ever played any sports in your life, you should know that getting one touch in blue moon, usually will end up in failure. to stay focused at all time, you have to be involved occasionally.
            it was stupid to see salmons kill 15 sec with the ball, or derozan dribble on one spot 20 ft from the basket… and to have jv fighting to get down low, and actually to get his position…… and to have some one jack up long contested jumper…
            sorry, your argument is lame

      • Roarque

        Absolutely right and I believe that he will do that either this year or next. His age in the NBA playing against men? Give him some time and give him the ball. BTW, if Chuck wants to contribute this season then JV’s defensive growth and footwork should be his goal.

        • afrocarter

          Yep. It would also be beneficial to watch some tape on Tiago Splitter, especially how the dude moves the ball while rolling to the basket.

          • Roarque

            Splitter is their Amir of that I am certain – isn’t he from Brazil?

            • afrocarter

              I do believe he is from Brazil, and you’re right — Amir is very much Toronto’s answer to Splitter. It would be great, however, if both our big guys were great interior passers (e.g. Diaw, Splitter).

              • Roarque

                Remember that brief period when Ed Davis and Amir Johnson played together? Their interior passing was great for two young guys. I regret Masai’s decision not to grab Ed to replace Psycho T in the last few weeks. Tyler has his strengths and skills that are very specific but interior passing are not part of his package.
                Ed is now playing in LA for a million a year – surprising to me. I wish him well and hope that Lionel Hollins didn’t destroy his self confidence.

                • afrocarter

                  That’s exactly what I had in mind. Those two (Amir & Ed) had such great chemistry; it’d be great to see Amir & JV develop a similar report.

    • Bryan Colangelo

      Talk about selective memory. The reason JV didn’t get touches was because he was either in foul trouble, turning the ball over (mostly because the Nets were getting away with a lot more contact than the Raps) or our guards were turning it over trying to feed the ball inside to Amir or Jonas.

      I don’t think it’s a matter of Casey liking or not liking him. It really more a matter of Casey and the players not solving the Nets double team faster.

      • raptorstand

        I can agree with that. The fouls. But we had them in the low post . Look it , if the Raptors play inside out ball they are twice the team then if they don’t. Our shooters need open shots , this has to be priority 1 going into the season and major focus of the offense if we are to become elite. Jonas has to be the big dog. He has to be the Tim Duncan of the Raptors . If he doesn’t achieve this , we will go nowhere.

    • jakdripr

      This isn’t entirely true, Jonas started the series hot, this is true. But he was also turning the ball over at an astounding rate. I think he had the second most turnovers of any raptor by game 3, which is saying a lot considering he’s a center. On top of this, sure his points reduced as the series went on(presumably) because he was given fewer touches. But what’s the excuse for his rebounding numbers shrinking? I mean he had 5 rebounds in game 7.

      I’m not chastising Jonas, I love the kid, I love his game, work ethic and passion. I’m just saying that blaming our loss of this series on Jonas not getting touches those 2 games is just silly. There were a lot of reasons we lost that series, and Jonas’s reduced touches probably attributed to it to a degree, but the boy also made a plethora of mistakes during that series. So let’s not act like he’s Shaquille O’Neal or something.

  • Jamshid

    Little off topic but Mavs just signed Al-Farouq Aminu to a 2 year deal ( 2nd year player option) for Vet minimum. Now, this is what I call a GREAT contract …

    • iHeartLowry

      That’s more than just a ‘little’ off topic.

      • Tyrone

        At least he had the right sport…

    • Jamshid

      And another great signing with Mavs with Nelson. 2 Year with 2nd year player option around 2.5 million for Nelson. Everyone wants a shorter deal because of the new TV deal in 2 years.

  • Tinmann

    To me he has yet to show that he can be a difference maker, and that’s just being honest. But he has shown he can play in the NBA. And for a kid his age, that’s promising.

    • rapierraptor

      I thought he was a difference maker in some of those games early on in the Brooklyn series but I get what you mean.

      • Tinmann

        I think he has it in him. And the article mention of few reasons why. Biggest being his age, position and that he is on a guard oriented team.
        I think the coaching staff will work on getting him more touches. As must DeRozan and Lowry work on getting JV more involved. Yet don’t disagree with how he has been handled so far. He’s paying his dues, getting his scraps.

  • Joelkorrie Mueller

    It has been a steep learning curv for Val. It is just all about consistency. Is it frustrating to watch Derozen look at him and then force something up, yes!! Has Val earned the right to be a dump it down to him post player, no. I agree that he is the one guy that could put this team over the top. Next summer the number one target has to be a legit inside/outside 4 man. Paul Millsap would be the perfect fit. You then move Amir to back-up center and have an extremely good front court. lowry, derozen, ross, millsap, val with vaz, jj, Patterson, amir as your main 4 off the bench. maybe one of caboclo or bebe will work into the rotation. should be an exciting year.

  • webfeat

    You guys keep pulling these great articles out of your arses at a time when nothing new is happening with the team, it’s great.

    >>Valanciunas, entering his third season, still needs time and patience.

    This is the key right here. Dude’s only 22. When I was 22, I was an immature idiot and I didn’t have the disadvantage of learning to adapt to a foreign language and country. Casey has to show trust in JV, and JV has to show trust in himself. I have a feeling he knows exactly what he has to do – the issue is that knowing and doing things instinctively/organically are very different things. The latter comes with experience and repetition.

    • Roarque

      Did you just say that Arse pulled this article out of his arse?

      IMO he pulled it out of his imagination – just sayin’…..

  • Wutabi

    Up until now Casey had to coach for his job. He couldn’t afford to let Ross and Valanciunas develop at the expense of wins. That’s why we saw so much of John Salmons and chuck Hayes. Casey knew what he would get from them.
    Hopefully his new contract allows Casey the security to put the team’s future first and focus on developing the young core.

  • Roarque

    JV really seems to want success as a team. He constantly talks about TEAM when he’s asked about his own contributions to a game situation. This is good. To have a young star want to enjoy team success is crucial to his growth defensively because the defensive side of the game is selfless hard work and cohesiveness with the rest of the team. The one on one exposure this summer and the willingness for both Chuck and Jonas to work together on his D in practice is a key component to his growth.
    If JV bursts out this season then the Raps will become a contender – it’s that simple.

  • Bendit

    “the Raptors socialist offense”…dem’s political fighting words there Z. Wouldn’t “the Raptors conservative offense” be more apropos?
    Nice analysis.

    • jjdynomite

      Yeah, and it’s not really a “socialist offense” either, considering Lowry and DeRozan, both in the backcourt, are so ball-dominant. “Socialist defense” more like it.

  • Mike

    How long Raptors will be able to keep him ?

  • Microaggressive

    “much like Michael Jordan’s Bulls who won with Luc Longley in the middle”

    Jordan doesn’t win without these guys.

    Bill Cartwright
    Will Perdue

    Luc Longley
    Bill Wennington

  • Foreel

    I would love to see him become Big Al Jefferson but that doesn’t happen overnight. It is fun to watch a skilled centre dominate a game. He has shown flashes but consistency is key. Let him play at least half the game though.

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  • A B C what u started

    great job guys i can finally get my rap fix everyday thank you go raps