7 players that the Toronto Raptors gave up on too soon

22 Feb 1997: Center Marcus Camby of the Toronto Raptors Mandatory Credit: Stephen Dunn /Allsport
22 Feb 1997: Center Marcus Camby of the Toronto Raptors Mandatory Credit: Stephen Dunn /Allsport /
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Toronto Raptors, Jonas Valanciunas
Toronto Raptors, Jonas Valanciunas (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

5. Jonas Valanciunas

The Raptors drafted Valanciunas with the fifth overall pick in 2011, and he quickly became the team’s starting center. The 6-11 big man produced strong numbers for Toronto for the next six and half seasons, but he always left fans wanting a bit more.

Valanciunas averaged 11.8 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 1.0 block in 25.1 minutes per game during his time with the Raptors. Foul trouble and the team’s desire to play small kept his playing time down before he was traded with Delon Wright, C.J. Miles, and a second-round pick to Memphis at the deadline in 2019 to acquire Marc Gasol.

Gasol helped the Raptors win a championship in 2019 thanks to his defensive exploits. He lasted just two years in Toronto before playing one final season with the Lakers in 2021. JV had to be traded to acquire him, but his best years have come after Toronto.

Jonas Valanciunas is thriving after leaving the Toronto Raptors.

Valanciunas saw his minutes increase in Memphis and his scoring and rebounding blossomed. He was traded to New Orleans in 2021, where he averaged a career-high 17.8 points per game, and the 6-11 big man has even added a 3-point shot to his arsenal.

The Raptors missed out on the best of JV because they wanted Gasol’s veteran presence and defense as they chased a championship. Toronto does not regret the decision because they won a title, but the franchise gave up on Valanciunas too quickly.