Getting to Know Jonas Valanciunas


Last week, the Raptors selected Lithuanian big man Jonas Valanciunas with the fifth pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, and while Valanciunas is a highly touted prospect among draft experts and bloggers alike, many Raptors fans are in the dark when it comes to the young Lithuanian big man.

Here is the 411 on the Raptors newest young gun:


  • Crazy wingspan
  • Explosiveness
  • Aggressive rebounder
  • Amazing off the pick and roll
  • Shot blocker
  • 70.8% shooter in the EuroLeague last season
  • 88.5% from the free throw line
  • Tough


  • May not have a NBA ready body
  • Can’t create his own offense
  • Lacks a consistent game from the perimeter

Famous For:  Leading Lithuania to the U-18 European Championship.

Why Raptors Fans Should Love Him Already:  He unknowingly dissed Chris Bosh in his post-draft interview.

Lazy Nickname Made By Raptors Bloggers too Lazy to Spell Valanciunas:  Big V

NBA Ceiling:  Big Z without the knee problems, and a tad more athletic.

NBA Floor:  Primoz Brezic

Potential For Immediate Impact:  High, he is extremely athletic and is tall. The Raptors starting center is soft as charmin Andrea Bargnani who missed well over ten games last season. Jonas will see tons of floor in his rookie season, whenever the lockout ends.

Why I Like This Pick: 

  • It gives the Raptors the ability to shop Bargnani, which is a move I think they need to make either this season, or next.
  • The Raptors now have a post core that has the finesse of Ed Davis and now Valanciunas and the hard work and hustle of Amir Johnson, Reggie Evans, and Joey Dorsey, whcih I am excited to watch.
  • With Kanter, Irving, and Williams off of the board Valanciunas was the best player on the board when the Raptors were on the clock.
  • From all accounts Valanciunas iosn’t a typical “Euro” post player and will bang in the post.
  • Did I mention he is the Anti-Bargnani?

What I Don’t Like:

  • Like most European players, I haven’t watched as much of his games as I would an NBA prospect. I am not the kind of guy who will bury a playuer because I don’t know as much about Player A as I do about Player B, but I would like to see more live in game action from Valanciunas before I am 100% sold on him.
  • Raptors fans’ are not happy with this pick and Valanciunas will be on a very short leash with Dino Nation, which could become an issue if he can’t deal with the pressure of playing on Canada’s only NBA franchise.
  • With no Summer League this season the learning curve of the American game will be very quick for Valanciunas.

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