While one take was given yesterday on the selection of Jonas Valanciunas, the HQ polls their usual media crew to get further reaction...
So has the dust settled at all this morning?
Yesterday's post-draft discussion on the Raptors' selection of Jonas Valanciunas nearly crashed the site, but brought out some amazing conversation regarding the choice.
Some loved it, some hated it, some understood it, but felt very uneasy considering past history, and some didn't think it would make a bit of difference - free agency was where the team had to make its biggest moves.
I thought this morning we'd post a poll though to see just where folks now lay on the "love-hate Valanciunas" spectrum, and also add a bit more colour to things.
Immediately after the selection, I reached out to our trusty HQ media panel for their take on the pick, and this is what they said:
Ryan Wolstat - Toronto Sun: Ballsy move, I like it, big-time upside, worry about if he'll be tough enough. Seems like a bigger, potentially much better Amir.
Tim Chisholm - TSN.ca: I like the move for two reasons: 1, it proves that Colangelo isn't scared for his job, because a man scared for his job doesn't make a move that virtually no one in his team's fan base wanted. Colangelo, though, felt that Valanciunas was the best player available and the guy that the team wanted all along, and he didn't forgo him to make a more popular choice, which should be great news to a fan base of a rebuilding team. I'm glad he felt emboldened to make the pick regardless of what the local backlash may be. People are jumping down his throat despite the fact that few have even seen him play a single game. Colangelo feels that once he comes over and plays people will get it and he's willing to take the hits until that happens. I respect that.
2, the other reason I like this move is that the Raptors got a real player with serious upside. Valanciunas, as much as Knight, Kanter, Biyombo and Kemba, is a legit player with serious upside that several teams were chasing until Toronto grabbed him at five. He plays a position of need, he's young and fits the direction the team is going in with long, active bodies. No one in this draft was a sure-thing and so Colangelo threw his lot in with the guy he thought would be the best player a couple of years down the road. Until someone can prove to me today that Knight or Kemba (who you all know I love) is without a doubt going to be a superior player down the road I'm going to say that this pick is as good as any available to Colangelo at five. In fact, I'm going to say it's slightly better than as good as any because it shows how much faith Colangelo has in him that he took him despite all of the inevitable backlash. It doesn't mean he'll capitalize on all of his potential, but he has as good a shot as anyone to do so.
Tom Liston - RaptorsRepublic.com: I'm with both Ryan and Tim. We hosted a party of 30 and I'm quite sure all but 1 (me) shouted "What the &%^#?" I'm quite happy that Colangelo went with the player with the most upside that was available rather than cater to the fan base with a "safe" pick (i.e. American born player). Passion and talent are not defined by geographic borders. Yes, I understand the fan base's concerns, but I don't share them. There was not a sure fire pick in this draft from 3 through 10+. Popular picks don't win championships, the best ones do. When I asked everyone if they've seen Valanciunas play, no one had in any material amount.
The best part of this move? It signals Colangelo is looking for a proper rebuild, rather than short term fixes. I've always believed a 41 win team is the absolute worst spot to be - and this is especially true considering the 2012 draft. A "bonus" of Valanciunas not helping the team this season is good.
Finally, a "true" 5 (if there is such a thing) is the Raptors largest need. We have two reasonable PGs for now, neither a long term solution. If you are truly rebuilding, you want to have the complete set few years out as our young players enter their prime. Thus, the Raptors have another year or two to find their PG - or trade/sign for a vet two years out. Great big men are hard to find and Valanciunas would have been very hard to pass on. If nothing else, I hear had strong interest from many teams and his trade value is reasonably high.
Zack Cooper - Fan590: I can understand the angst. Completely.
A lot of people had their eye (heart) set on one guy or another... whether it be Kawhi Leonard (who had mine since his workout here), Brandon Knight (I initially assumed he'd be gone 5), Bismack Biyombo or Kemba Walker... then you've got GM Bryan Colangelo going and picking a guy no one's ever seen play - youtube doesn't count.
It takes a lot of trust to blindly follow someone, and as we've all seen over the last year (or two), Colangelo has lost the trust of a lot of the Raptors' fanbase.
While venom spewed from nearly every "@" on twitter... it was hard to take a step back and realize what kind of talent the Raptors actually had in Jonas Valanciunas, though (I think it took me 3 or 4 tries to actually spell it correctly) (Is it spelled correctly?).
On the surface... he's a "European big man." The Raptors have that already. How's that working out?
However, after sifting through some more youtube (it's all we've got) videos, you can tell that "Big Val" is nothing like Andrea.
Valanaciunas plays inside. He dunks. A lot. With athleticism.
I've started to warm up to the pick - especially after hearing Colangelo say "If he wasn't available at 5, we would have explored moving down."
Clearly the Raptors really like him. The question is whether the fanbase still trusts what the Raptors deem as top talent.
A pretty balanced take on things, further reflected by what many of the panel has since written on the topic.
-Tim Chisholm reinforces that Jonas Valanciunas is NOT Andrea Bargnani.
-Ryan Wolstat notes in fact that with Val, Bargnani will have to adapt, or "pack his bags."
-And Tom Liston looks at the various issues Raptors' fans have with the selection of Valanciunas, and blows them out of the water, mythbuster style.
-Add in a very interesting take by Tim Pickett, comparing the reaction of Raptors' fans post pick, to impatient cookie-loving kids, and there has been some pretty great stuff written in the blogosphere of late regarding Big Val.
Hopefully once fans digest enough of these pieces, everyone calms down a bit and attention is shifted to the real issue on the horizon; the fact that there very well may not be an NBA season next year.