4. C Jonas Valanciunas, 2011 NBA Draft, No. 5 overall
On draft night in 2011, Raptors’ management finally got it right at the center position. Over the years, the team has employed projects like Oliver Miller, an out of position and undersized Antonio Davis, failed in draftees like Aleksander Radojevic and Rafael Araujo, and signings like Nate Huffman. Waiting a year for JV to play center was well worth the patience.
So when Valanciunas’ name was called at No. 5 in 2011 and Raptors’ faithful learned they would have to wait a year for the team’s newest member to make an impact, there were doubters of the selection by Bryan Colangelo.
However, Valanciunas patrolled the paint for six and half seasons, admirable for the Raptors. He was another near double-double player in points and rebounds.
Jonas Valanciunas was a rock-solid Raptors center.
During Toronto’s seven-year playoff run Valanciunas or Norman Powell were usually among Toronto’s most reliable playoff performers. The past two seasons illustrate how a center of JV’s caliber entering his prime was needed in Toronto.
The deemphasis on the center position in the modern game aside, size matters in the NBA, and the 7-0 Lithuanian used his skills to maximum effect in Memphis. JV is the best center the Raptors have ever drafted.