Apr 9, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas (17) shoots the ball against Chicago Bulls center Nazr Mohammed (48) during the first half at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Jonas Valanciunas makes the All-Rookie Team

It’s welcome news to learn of JV’s election to the All-Rookie Second Team. The Toronto Raptors have not had a lot of standout rookies (the last three Raps to get elected were Jamario Moon, Andrea Bargnani and Jorge Garbojosa – let’s hope the career arc of JV extends slightly higher than those guys!), so we need to go back to Chris Bosh, MoPete and Vince to find All-Rookie Raps who truly panned out. To me, making this team is a meaningful honour, as it’s the NBA coaches who do the voting.

Scanning the historical All-Rookie list is fascinating. Sure, there are lots of now-great players as you would expect (Tony Parker, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Kevin Durant) but there are a lot more flameouts than I would have thought (Adam Morrison, Jonny Flynn, Marcus Fizer are but a few Gong Show choices). It shows how difficult it is to extrapolate a player’s future when even the top minds in the NBA can go so wrong.

Apr 6, 2013; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Toronto Raptors guard Terrence Ross (31) shoots over Milwaukee Bucks forward Mike Dunleavy (17) during the first quarter at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Getting back to JV’s selection: while the coaches vote on players regardless of position, you could in fact field a team with the 10 choices, as there are a reasonable number of backcourt and frontcourt representatives. JV finished third in the imaginary big man ballot, behind easy choices Anthony Davis of New Orleans and Detroit’s Andre Drummond, but ahead of the Cavaliers’ Tyler Zeller. Davis and Washington’s Bradley Beal must feel slightly cursed, as their 57-points total would win the All-Rookie Award most years. Not this one, however – Portland’s Damian Lillard received all 29 possible first-place votes, and certainly looked to these eyes like a player who will rack up many more awards before he’s through. The young man can create, and make, his own shot from anywhere. If he manages to become even an average defender, he’s a serious All-Star candidate.

JV richly deserved his spot, and might well have bumped up into the First Team had the season gone on much longer. If there were a most improved rookie award (I know, we’re getting silly now), he’s my top choice.

Final thought: Terrence Ross managed to garner one second-team vote. Coach Whoever-You-Are, I hope your brave selection is vindicated in years to come.

Brian Boake is Senior Editor for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.



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Tags: All-Rookie Team Jonas Valanciunas NBA Terrence Ross Toronto Raptors

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