Lots of Jonas talk in this edition of Lunchbox Links.
We'll start with Mr. Valanciunas' play in the current FIBA European Basketball Championship. Big Val is averaging about 7 points and 6 rebounds in under 20 minutes of action for his Lithuanian Squad that is through to the second round of play. Valanciunas is shooting a nice looking 63 per cent and blocking over a shot a game though so were he to grab a bigger share of minutes, we'd like see him averaging over a double-double.
Former Raptor Linas Kleiza, who usually excels in these tourneys, is only averaging nine points a game despite having played the fourth-most minutes for his club to date. Shooting 37 per cent from the field will do that though...
Lithuania takes on France today in maybe their toughest test yet. France finished the first round with a 4 and 1 record atop their group, and is perfect so far in the second round.
More Valanciunas talk, this time courtesy of Real GM and SB Nation's Jonathan Tjarks. Tjarks looks at Jonas' play so far in the Euro Championship and argues that Valanciunas represents a new synthesis:
"big and skilled enough to punish smaller defenders, but still quick and active enough to survive in a more wide-open game."
Tjarks goes on to note that Valanciunas is perfect for a small-ball lineup with four shooters surrounding him (this is where Raptors' fans gulp) and that pairing him with a Ryan Anderson-type for max spacing would be ideal. (This is where Raptors' fans either smile at the arrival of Steve Novak, or smack their heads off a wall at Bargnani's uselessness last season. Or both.)
And hey, more Val!
NBA.com doles out some offseason grades and Valanciunas is a big part of Toronto's final mark. His play in Summer League was encouraging enough for NBA.com to give the Raptors' front-court a B, helping to pull up the club's overall grade.
On a humourous note, you can check out Kyle Lowry getting his shot blocked by...comedian Kevin Hart.
And on a not so humourous note, were the Raps for sale?
In terms of non-Raptors news, Grantland's Zach Lowe presents an interesting look at the case for the 40-minute NBA game, while you may recognize some of these types of players, if you're a pick-up ball regular:
Finally, a big shout out to former Toronto Raptor Morris Peterson.
Mo Pete will be inducted into the Michigan State University's Athletics Hall of Fame tomorrow, a well-deserved honour for a key player in Spartan basketball history. As my favourite member of the Raps all-time, happy to see Mo get this recognition and hopefully during his induction, Michigan State manages to sneak this clip in...
...still the most ridiculous basketball sequence ever.