Toronto Raptors Offseason Player Evaluations: Jonas Valanciunas

USA TODAY Sports

The HQ's Chris Walder looks back at the year that was for Jonas Valanciunas, how he should have never doubted the skill level and potential of the 21 year old Lithuanian, and what that all has to do with the top-selling video game on the market today.

Name: Jonas Valanciunas

2012-13 statistics: 62 games played, 23.9 minutes, 8.9 points, 55.7% from the field, 6.0 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.3 steals, 1.3 blocks, 1.5 turnovers, 15.62 PER

Comparison: The Last Of Us

"Give me a break".

"Not again".

"I can't believe this".

Those were the thoughts that went through my head when the Toronto Raptors selected Jonas Valanciunas with the fifth overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.


It wasn't fair of me, but I had seen that song and dance before. The Raptors selecting an international prospect early in the first round?

I immediately had visions of Primo Pasta and shark tattoos dancing in my head.

I was making preconceived notions based on mistakes of the past. I had no idea what kind of player Valanciunas was or could be, but I immediately shunned the selection because of previous "bad picks" the team had made over the years.

I assumed. And well, we all know how the saying goes.

I was wrong. Very wrong.

Extremely wrong.

Valanciunas was named to the NBA's All-Rookie Second Team, becoming just the 10th player in franchise history to receive All-Rookie honors. He was also named the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month (the first Raptor to receive the honor since Jamario Moon in 07-08) back in March, having averaged 11.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.1 blocks.


He would eventually finish seventh amongst rookies in scoring, third in rebounding and third in blocks

Sure, he had his growing pains, and it took him nearly the entire season to get into the good graces of coach Dwane Casey, but for the most part, the good outweighed the bad.

Valanciunas showed a knack for grabbing rebounds, defending the paint and playing like a true big man. His experience playing in Europe has set him up nicely for a productive and successful start to his career in Toronto.

His strong play in 2012-13 got fans giddy. It made the Raptors fan base excited for the future, which is something 'Il Mago' has rarely done for this team.

The body of work is small, but from what I've seen thus far, I can't help but be optimistic about his individual growth as a player and how it will benefit the Raptors moving forward.

When was the last time I was this excited about something?

(Nerd Alert)

Check this out.

It's called "The Last Of Us". It's a brand new video game by the developers at Naughty Dog for the PlayStation 3.

I haven't played it yet. Please don't spoil it for me. I'm planning on purchasing it in the near future.

I'm hearing good things. The trailer alone should get anyone's adrenaline going. It's on literally every commercial break, regardless of what you're watching, so you can't miss it. It looks like a cross between "The Walking Dead" and "The Road" (which is awesome), so I can't wait to get my hands on it and play.

What does "The Last Of Us" have to do with Jonas Valanciunas?

Well, there is no direct relation between the two, unless Valanciunas someday becomes an integral figure in a post-apocalyptic world.

This is just from my perspective.

Just as I'm eager to play this masterpiece of digital gaming on my PS3, I'm just as eager to sit back and watch the continued development of one Jonas Valanciunas.

I'm positive that I won't be disappointed.

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