Who would win a Raptors-only track-and-field day? How good is Amir Johnson’s Celine Dion impression? When was the last time Dwane Casey cried at the movies? Every day until the season starts, we throw a Raptor in front of a green screen and ask him the tough questions. Today, Jonas Valanciunas morphs into the wolf’s friend.
Know Your Raptors: Lou Williams | Kyle Lowry | Bruno Caboclo | Chuck Hayes | Jonas Valanciunas | Amir Johnson | Tyler Hansbrough | Landry Fields | Terrence Ross | James Johnson | Patrick Patterson | Lucas Nogueira | DeMar DeRozan | Greivis Vasquez | Dwane Casey
Around this time last year, you couldn’t walk three feet without bumping into a story about Jonas Valanciunas. In what was supposed to be a forgettable transition season for the Raptors—full of question marks at the point and DeMar and Rudy struggling to coexist on the offensive end—JV’s development was the brightest beacon of hope. He was the big man the team could build around, he’d grown so much already and the attention on him was what you’d expect for the Future of the Franchise.
This season things are noticeably quieter. The seven-foot centre didn’t take the gigantic leap many fans were hoping for in his sophomore season, and Toronto’s return to the playoffs has shifted priorities—the focus is no longer on a single player’s development, it’s on the whole team’s.
But JV is still the future of this team.
This year will be a crucial one for him, and the work he put in this summer—adding more muscle (somehow), working on his footwork with a running coach in Orgeon, paying the almost-obligatory visit to Hakeem Olajuwon in Houston, and fitting it all in around the FIBA World Cup—is proof he knows it.
Big men take a little time to ripen—or so conventional wisdom says. Valanciunas will be worth the wait.
2013–14 Stats: 11.3 Pts/G, 8.8 Reb/G, 0.7 Ast/G, 0.9 Blk/G, 53.1 FG%, 28.2 Min/G