Lithuania HC: Valanciunas ‘has to dedicate himself to basketball more’

The piling on of Jonas Valanciunas continues.

Lithuania head coach Jonas Kazlauskas was about as subtle as a brick in the small of the back on Thursday morning when evaluating Valanciunas’ play at the Olympics, joining a chorus of tweeters and commenters at RR who came away disappointed in the center

I don’t really have much more to say on the matter than what I said here. If you want my thoughts on Valanciunas’ performances and what it means, they’re on that page. I don’t really mean to add a second consecutive day to the Valanciunas arguments this has created (count me out on those), but it’s a biting enough quote that I felt I had to pass it along.

Kazlauskas, for what it’s worth, is in his fourth summer with Valanciunas, so he ostensibly knows the player well enough. “Dedicate” here is an interesting word choice, because Valanciunas has played with the Lithuanian national team every offseason, and while his conditioning hasn’t always been at its peak to start seasons, I’ve never heard much internal criticism of Valanciunas’ work ethic (much the opposite, if anything, and I’ve always gotten the impression he takes playing poorly pretty hard). This is a guy who had assistant coach Nick Nurse holed up with him last summer to run through Terrence Ross-like shooting drills for a chunk of the offseason. That doesn’t mean his focus can’t wane, and he did look a little slower in Brazil than at the end of the NBA season, but it’s also entirely reasonable for a player to ease up before using a mid-summer competition as the kick-off to pre-season preparation.

I don’t know. It’s an interesting quote, one I imagine some will use to blame the coach for Valanciunas’ struggles (which is tough looking at his past performance under Kazlauskas) and that some will use as a smoking gun in their anti-Valanciunas arguments (which, again, count me out). I’m not much for attributing performance to the psychological without getting to actually speak to a player, so hopefully Valanciunas is either willing to talk about the Olympics in camp, or he’s in such great shape we all forget about it. We’ll revisit it in two months.

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