Raptors Heat Basketball

Report: Raptors might shut down Valanciunas for rest of Summer League


Jonas Valanciunas is one of the leading candidates for Summer League MVP.

He showed up to Vegas filled out in the upper body and then proceeded to be a man among boys averaging 18.8 points on 56.1 percent shooting with 10 rebounds and almost one block a game. He isn’t just bullying his way to the rim, he has shown patient moves, improved footwork, the ability to score with jump hooks, he’s got pump fakes coming out his pump fakes, and if the defense shifts he’s made some nifty passes. It may only be Summer League, but it’s been an impressive run.

And it may be over.

The Raptors may be shutting him down for the remainder of Summer League reports Doug Smith of the Toronto Star.

Word out of Vegas last night was that they are going to shut down Jonas Valanciunas for whatever’s left of the Summer League.

The Raptors are still alive in the Summer League tournament; they play the Suns on Saturday. Win and they advance to the semi-finals, so there could be as many as three Raptors games left. Shut Valanciunas down and there is probably just one.

Valanciunas will be playing for Lithuania this summer at EuroBasket. That will be a good test as rather than playing against boys there will be some real men with size to match his bodying him up.

Raptors fans, don’t go too overboard with Valanciunas’ Summer League performance, but it’s a really good sign of his development that his body and footwork made this kind of jump.

J.R. Smith hits halfcourt shot, wins $30K prize for military family

2015 NBA Finals - Game Four
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Monday night fans filled the Q in downtown Cleveland to watch an intrasquad scrimmage amongst the defending and heavily favored to repeat Eastern Conference champion Cavaliers.

But before the scrimmage got started, J.R. Smith was selected to take a half-court shot — hit it and a military family won a $30,000 prize. Smith was money.

I’m surprised the Cavs didn’t have to send out someone to contest the shot to get him to hit it.

Without Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Hornets playoff hopes fade

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Solomon Hill

The Hornets goal this season was a return to the playoffs.

They had ended their drought and made it in two seasons ago behind the strength of one of the NBA’s better defenses. Then last season chemistry issues, injuries, and a host of other problems saw the Hornets taking a step back. This season coach Steve Clifford was talking about getting the defense sharp again and the team returning to the playoffs.

Ugh. With Michael Kidd-Gilchrist out due to a torn labrum (from a dislocation shoulder) the entire picture changes. While the team has said no decision on treatment has been made, this injury requires surgery that will cost him the season.

And with that, the Hornets playoff dreams become deferred for another season.

This stat may sum it up best: Last season the Hornets were 28-29 when Kidd-Gilchrist played, 5-20 when he was out.

There are two main reasons for the drop off — and neither are MKG’s legendarily bad jumper, which was re-worked by Mark Price and is less painful than it used to be (he averaged 10.9 points and 7.6 rebounds per game last season).

The first and larger issue is MKG is the heart of the Hornet defense. Last season when he was on the court, the Hornets played Warriors-level defense (Charlotte allowed 96.3 points per 100 possessions, which was better than Golden State). However, when MKG was off the court the Hornets defense was Detroit Pistons-like (Charlotte allowed 104.1 per 100). The Hornets were 7.8 points per 100 possessions better defensively when he played. Charlotte plays Al Jefferson in the paint; they have no rim protection, and if their best perimeter defender is out they are in trouble.

The second issue is they have nobody near as good to replace him with. The options are Marvin Williams, Jeremy Lamb, P.J. Hairston or Troy Daniels. Out of that group I guess Williams starts, but he’s had more success as a small four than a three.

In an Eastern Conference where a few teams think they have a shot to jump up into the playoffs — Miami will; Detroit and Indiana think they can — it’s hard to picture a Charlotte team struggling to defend making the leap over those teams plus Brooklyn or whoever is going to fall out.

It’s hard to see that happen to the Hornets right at the start of training camp.