“I want to get better like always,”
“Every game, every practice, every minute on the court I want to get better. This is the same way.”
No one in the NBA Summer League is standing out more than Jonas Valanciunas right now.
Against the Spurs, Valanciunas scored 19 points leading the Raptors to victory.
Prior to that, Valanciunas scored 23 points on 8-of-10 shooting against the Heat’s Summer league team.
And the most interesting thing about those stats – before you proclaim that it’s simply just ‘Summer league’ – is that Jonas was putting up similar numbers in limited minutes in his rookie season.
And then you look at those numbers, and wonder – just how good is this kid going to be?
Well, here’s some rookie numbers for you:
- 23.9 mpg
- 8.9 ppg
- .556 fg%
- 6 rpg
- 1.3 bpg
- 33.5 mpg
- 11.5 ppg
- .459 fg%
- 7.4 rpg
- 1.4 bpg
So then, a quick inspection of these numbers establishes the fact that Jonas Valanciunas is – generally – doing what Chris Bosh did in his rookie year, but in a more efficient manner (in 10 less minutes per game).
That’s pretty impressive – and I believe that’s what has enticed so many Raptor fans thus far.
He’s just efficient. A .556 percentage from the field is commendable for a rookie – or for anyone, really.
And he’s only improving.
Not only has Jonas put on an unmistakable amount of muscle; but he also looks tremendously focused – ready to put his newly acquired size and strength to bully his opponents under the basket.
ESPN has given him an ‘A+’ on their grading page.
(A+) Jonas Valanciunas, Raptors: 23 PTS | 7 REB | 0 AST
Ah, the joys of summer league for big men who know how to operate in the post.
The bulked-up second-year center went to work early and often for the Raptors, setting
up shop down on the block, turning post-entry passes and teammates’ misses into a
Saturday night dunk-a-thon. — Kevin Arnovitz7
With more experience under his belt, and – hopefully – more playing time in his upcoming sophomore season, Valanciunas should continue to surprise some people and make some noise.
The talent is there, and so is the athletic ability. All that remains is experience, amelioration of his mid-range game, understanding of defensive positioning, and a polishing of his NBA basketball IQ.
But he’s not far off to become one of the best -if not the best – centers in the league.
Oh, and by the way, his English has improved leaps and bounds since last season.
On a related note, all Raptor fans should be thankful that Masai Ujiri is in charge of things now. I have so much belief in this man, that I trust him to surround Jonas Valanciunas with the proper tools and players, so that the Lithuanian will remain as a Raptor for years and years to come.