Thursday, June 23, 2011
Now That We've Calmed Down - Let's See What We've Got In Jonas Valanciunas
Believe me when I say this, Jonas was definitely not at the top of my list. In fact, my board had Knight and Walker at the top, with Kanter and Biyombo as my other 4 options. And as disappointed as I was, it's best that we put this decision into perspective.
First off, Val was projected on many mock drafts and by many experts to go anywhere from 3-8. He was and is still considered to be the best Euro in the draft, as well as having one of the higher ceilings out of anyone in this year's class. In fact, Cleveland was thought to be the likely destination for Jonas at #4. The fact that he went to #5 isn't a reach at all and is in fact where about he should go. On top of that, many teams were rumored to be very interested in moving up to pick Jonas up - one of them being San Antonio. And let's face it, the Spurs have an incredible track record with scouting and drafting players. If San Antonio is interested in him, then there's no reason we should be so extremely opposed to him as well.
Secondly, this pick was made with new Raptors head coach Dwane Casey's input in mind. Casey and the entire franchise want to establish a defensive culture and acquire players that can best execute Casey's 2-3 zone. Dwane has said he's totally behind this pick and I can see why. Val's athleticism and scary lanky-ness will help a ton.
Lastly, I want to shamefully admit that the biggest reason I didn't have Valanciunas at the top of my board was simply because - he's a European player. And you know what? That mirrors the thinking of many Raptors fans out there. And because of our history with Euros, it's not unjustified.
But let's get one thing straight here. Jonas is NOT your typical Euro stereotype.
This guy doesn't shy away from contact. Rebounding is a big part of his game. Most of his points are scored with dunks and shots very close to the basket. He may be physically weak right now, but at a mere age of 19, he has more than enough time to bulk up. And I would bet he has more mass on him than Ed Davis does in his first season when he turns 21.
Check out this highlight mixtape of him:
Best case scenario, this guy turns out to be similar to a Pau Gasol. A 2 way big who can be a factor on both sides of the court. Lastly, major props to the the front office, who had the guts to pick a player they knew would receive backlash. Long term is the big picture, and it's best we give this thing a chance.