The Toronto Raptors might be defying the odds as it’s slowly improving its standing in the NBA. With the help of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, the Raptors finally revived their glory days years after Vince Carter dominated the scene.
But as good as it sounds; the Raptors are still struggling a bit. Analysts are pointing their fingers at Jonas Valanciunas. Sure, he’s a big man who has above-average rebounding skills. But he’s criticized for his slow-footedness.
And in a time when big men need to be flexible enough to play as athletic rebounders and shooting towers, one can clearly see that the Lithuanian is in deep trouble.
JV’s playing time lessened
As of now, the Raptors management realized this problem and decided to lessen his playing time. The initial decision was to demote him to the bench, but they realized that it was a bit unethical, and so he was just used a lot less. There are even reports that he might even be traded to another team, a proof of his dwindling use in the team.
Need a concrete proof of his seeming string of unfortunate events? Well, take for example the recent 107-104 loss of the Raptors to the Pacers. Halfway through the game, Dwane Casey pulled Jonas out of the bench for Pascal Siakam. It was his chance to regain the trust of the team (and the world as well). But unsurprisingly, he failed to do just that.
His rhythm was off and his lack of enthusiasm to prove that he’s a legit star is starting to wane off. Add into the equation the Raptors’ defeat at the hands of the Knicks. It was supposed to be a game changer. But still, the 25-year-old baller was pulled early from the game. While Serge Ibaka finished the game off on the center position without bearing any fruit.
Can he make up for his dwindling legacy?
With it, it’s pretty clear that Valanciunas is up for some big-time trouble as his legacy hangs in the balance. In an interview, the Lithuanian surprisingly accepts his fate as he agrees with Coach Casey’s decision. He says that Casey prefers to play with a smaller but agiler lineup because he wants to try a new approach.
And he completely understands why that’s happening. Dwane Casey will do whatever it takes to get the team’s bearing right, even if it means hurting the feelings of its valuable players in the process.
In an interview with Casey, he says that they need to prefer speed over height. However, he also clarifies that there was nothing wrong with Jonas Valanciunas. The 5th overall pick of the 2011 NBA Draft was just doing his job, and there was nothing more he can do as his fate depends on his natural physical structure.
Valanciunas is still needed
With this, one can conclude that the Raptors are cool in having Valanciunas in the team. But his set of skills and rebounding process is not their priority (as of now). Casey adds that they need to outrun their opponents down the floor, implying that Valanciunas has no way of doing that.
The coaching staff’s decision to put Ibaka at the center position seems to work at first, when their game against the Knicks started smoothly. But even the new approach wasn’t that effective as it eventually resulted in a 108-100 loss to the Knicks.
The Valanciunas-Ibaka tandem
Valanciunas might be the root cause of the issue. But the real problem is really with his and Ibaka’s playing time together. Out of the 222 minutes the two big men played together, the team had a -1.8 for every 100 possessions, a proof that they’re not in sync with each other.
This is one of the reasons why the Raptors struggled a few minutes after tip-offs and even in a handful of third quarters, as these are the times when Valanciunas and Ibaka play together.
Based on NBA.com’s statistics, the Raptors have a bit of improvement whenever Ibaka plays at the center position. Contributing a 110.2 offensive rating out of the 109.9, and a 96.9 defensive rating out of the 103.6, it’s very evident that the improvement is not that much, but at least it’s working.
This means that the Raptors are constantly improving even though it’s not that much. With this, it makes perfect sense for you to bet on them. But in doing so, make sure that you use a promo code, just like the William Hill promotional code 2018, to increase your winning chances.
But then again, it’s not just about the betting game that we need to consider. The team’s camaraderie also comes to play here. And it boils down to Dwane Casey’s patience to keep up with the trend.
Even though the improvement may still be considered insignificant, it’s nonetheless tilting towards the bright side. And that’s with the help of Valanciunas sitting down on the bench.
Yes, the Raptors need Valanciunas, but not that much.