On Friday’s episode of Tim and Sid: Uncut, Micallef and Bronsteter spent a good part of the show discussing the Toronto Raptors most recent addition to the team, Jonas Valanciunas. As Tim mentioned, he has never seen a city react so negatively toward a draft pick….almost never. And I’m going to honest, when Commissioner Stern announced that Jonas was selected at No. 5 by the Raptors, I let out a huge “MOTHERF**K” and my first thought was, “here we go again.”
However, after listening to Tim voice both sides of the argument, and then follow up those sentiments during an interview with Maurizio Gherardini, I figured I was only pissed and nervous because I’ve never heard of the guy – the unknown is a scary thing. So what do I do when I’m not sure of something? I do work “son” and over the weekend I spent a considerable amount of time being educated.
Jonas Valanciunas is a 19-year old Lithuanian basketball player born in 1992 and who currently plays for BC Lietuvos Rytas of the Lithuanian Basketball League. According to NBA.com, the kid has a standing reach of 9’3″ and a wingspan of 7’4″. He’s long people! Some of his accomplishments to date include (courtesy of Jonas’ website):
1. MVP of the European U16 Basketball Championship in 2008 after leading Lithuania to the championship title. Averaged 14.3 points, 11.1 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per game in 8 games, while posting a double-double 5 times. He also finished the tournament as the leading shot blocker and second-best rebounder as was included on the All-Tournament Team.
2. Led BC Lietuvos Rytas to the Finals of the EuroLeague Nike International Junior Tournament 2009, and was voted to the All-Tournament Team, posting 32 points, 13 rebounds, and 5 blocks in the final game.
* Highlights from the final game against FMP above. I should warn you that it’s grainy as hell.
3. Was voted to the All-Tournament Team in the U18 European Basketball Championships 2009, where Lithuania finished 4th. Valanciunas averaged 19.3 points (2nd), 10.5 rebounds (4th), and 2.6 blocks (2nd) in this tournament.
4. Lithuanian Basketball League champion (2009-10 season) and runner-up (2010-11 season) with BC Lietuvos Rytas.
* Some more grainy music to an old Led Zeppelin riff.
5. MVP and All-Tournament of the European U18 Basketball Championship in 2010 and European champion with Lithuanian team. Valanciunas averaged 19.4 points, 13.4 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks per game. Posted 31 points and 18 rebounds in the Final game vs Russia. He finished the tournament ranking 1st in 8 statistical categories (incl. rebounding, FTs attempted and made, FG percentage), and 2nd in 4 others (incl. scoring and blocked shots).
2010-’11 Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius
7.7 PTS, 5.8 REB, 0.5 BLK
2010-’11 Lithuanian National U18 Team
European U18 Championship 2010
19.4 PTS, 13.4 REB, 2.7 BLK
After this weekend, I’ve jumped off the ship of haters and I’m now pretty excited to see this kid suit up and I won’t pass judgement until I see him play. Only then, do I think Raptor Nation and myself can have a right to complain. From his resume and list of accomplishments, the kid is a winner. You can’t take that away from him. Good Luck Jonas and welcome to the Toronto Raptors and to the City of Toronto. I heard your wrist is like magic.
From Arvydas Sabonis,
“He’s using not only his size, but his quickness as well. His wrist is magic. It’s easy to miss short jumpers around the basket, but the basket seems to literally suck his shots in.”
“He’s great in defense, and he knows how to avoid fouls. Jonas is a center, so he has to clean up everybody else’s mistakes. It takes skill to play clean in this position and avoid picking fouls. He just has to keep his head on his shoulders, and he’ll standing on many more podiums.”
Remember Tim and Sidizens to tune into Tim and Sid: Uncut at 4PM ET tomorrow on the Score’s SIRIUS Radio Channel 158.