After seeing him bulked up at Summer League and looking like a man among boys, after seeing him play well for his native Lithuania over the summer, a lot of people picked Toronto’s Jonas Valanciunas to have a breakout season.
Not so much. He’s scoring a little more per game but that’s just because he’s shooting more, his shooting percentage dropped from 55.7 percent last season to 49.5 percent this season. He’s grabbing a slightly higher percentage of rebounds, but overall he’s not taken the expected step forward.
Sunday Pau Gasol was having his way with Valanciunas and Raptors coach Dwane Casey went with his other options, as he told the Toronto Sun.
“He needed to do a better job on Pau Gasol and I thought Chuck (Hayes) and Amir (Johnson) did a better job on him and we went for the defensive matchup,” Casey explained…
Valanciunas struggled Wednesday in Boston as well, but on that night all the bigs were having a tough time. With Hayes playing Gasol tough, Casey chose to go with him over his sophomore centre.
Amir Johnson is having his second solid season in a row up in Toronto, and Chuck Hayes is the definition of a solid veteran who can be relied upon.
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Valanciunas gets 31.9 percent of his shot attempts out of post-ups and shoots 48.5 percent on those, which is fairly pedestrian (via Synergy Sports). He’s far more effective when moving off the ball, and he can be a force on the offensive glass at times, but he’s not as big a force as the roll man as the Raptors would hope with Kyle Lowry.
Valanciunas still is a good second-year player, and maybe the third season is the year he makes the leap. You could see him as part of what is being built by Masai Ujiri in Toronto, but how big a part will depend on if he can consistently find his game.
The Pistons will start Reggie Jackson at point guard, and they signed Ish Smith to provide better backup at the position.
The competition for the third point guard spot is heating up.
With Lorenzo Brown and Ray McCallum already signed to unguaranteed deals, Detroit is adding undrafted Old Dominion guard Trey Freeman.
Michael Scotto of Sheridan Hoops:
The Pistons have just 14 players – one shy of the regular-season roster limit – with guaranteed salaries. The final spot will very likely go to a point guard.
Brown and McCallum should be favored in the competition, because they’re more NBA-ready. A president/coach, Stan Van Gundy is more prone to covet the player who can step in immediately.
Freeman’s partial guarantee is likely designed to entice him to play in the D-League for a low base salary. The Pistons can waive him in the preseason and then assign his D-League rights to their affiliate, though he’d become an NBA free agent.
Freeman is working to become a better distributor after playing as a go-to scorer in college. A solid mid-range shooter, he must extend his range beyond the arc. It’d also help if he got to the rim more, and it seems he has the bounce to do that.
For an undrafted player, he has nice tools. They’ll probably just need to be refined in the D-League.
But even if that’s the intention, Freeman at least gives himself a chance first of upsetting Brown and McCallum in the race for third point guard.
With 32 wins and missing the playoffs, last season wasn’t exactly what the Knicks hoped for. However, last season also came with hope in the form of Kristaps Porzingis.
And there were highlights. Check out the team’s Top 10 plays, courtesy NBA.com.
It starts with some Derrick Williams moments, and ends with a Jose Calderon game winner, but there are moments from players the fans actually like in between.
At this point, there is zero chance Russell Westbrook‘s posts are a coincidence.
First. he posted a video of himself singing along to Lil Uzi Vert’s “Now I Do What I Want.”
Then came the shoe ad that was another little jab at now Warriors Kevin Durant.
Now comes Westbrook’s return to karaoke posts, this time singing Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Getting Back Together” and Katy Perry’s “Wide Awake.”
Apparently, Westbrook and Durant are having one rough teenage breakup.
One of the great stories of last season was the return of Paul George to All-Star level form (then to watch him be crucial to the USA winning gold this summer).
It was a great story because vintage Paul George was so great. Watch this throwback video of him blowing by LeBron James and dunking over Chris Andersen from a few years back — this is vicious.
By the way, if you’re not following NBA history on Twitter and Instagram, you’re doing it wrong.