Jonas Valanciunas is expected to make his debut on Wednesday when the Toronto Raptors pay a visit to Detroit to face the Pistons.
The Lithuanian rookie participated in his first full-contact practice with the team on Tuesday and Raptors coach Dwane Casey told reporters that the team will wait until Wednesday morning before a final call is made on his availability.
“We’re going to see how his body feels tomorrow after going through today and then we’ll make that decision,” Casey said. “Because again, the young man hasn’t done anything for two-to-three weeks so we’ll see how he reacts but we are anticipating seeing him out there tomorrow night.”
Valanciunas has been sidelined since suffering a calf injury on Sept. 22. Despite the rust, Casey was impressed with what he saw.
“He looks good. Active out there. Active hands, long. Not afraid of contact. He’ll hit you first,” Casey said before cautioning that his prized protege was hardly a finished product.
“Again, we want to work with him as far as making sure he makes the right decisions,” Casey explained. “When to screen. When to hit people and that type of thing so he doesn’t get the cheap fouls.”
Point guard Kyle Lowry will not be available for active duty against the Pistons as the team is being very cautious with his leg injury.
“He’s a prideful young man and he’s chomping at the bit,” Casey said. “We know that this extra work, this precautionary work, is going to help us down the road so he’s not in and out, in and out.”
Casey said Lowry’s absence has not made things easy for him as he tries to get the team prepared for the regular season.
“It’s always a setback when you don’t have one of your projected top-eight rotation players, or your starting point guard possibly, in the lineup, so it’s very difficult,” Casey explained.
It was no surprise that the defensive-minded Raptors coach told reporters that the defence was slightly ahead of the offense at this stage of the game.
“We still have to get our defensive schemes in. We have so many new guys coming in that weren’t here last year. When we yell out a term, some guys start looking, saying ‘hell, what was that?’”, Casey explained.
“We’ve got to get that foundation so that’s why we are going so long in practice now because we are trying to get our defence in, work on it and also our offence at the same time.”