67RIEFNS No. 46: Jonas Valanciunas on verge of a breakthrough


The NBA is full of talent, personality and suspense. During the offseason, It’s easy to forget how wonderful the league can be. So, I’ve assembled 67 Reasons I’m Excited For Next Season (67RIEFNS). They’ll be presented in no particular order.

Last year, a 21-year-old Jonas Valanciunas posted 11.3 points on 53.1 percent shooting with 8.8 rebounds per game. Just seven other players have posted those numbers at such a young age:

  • Buck Williams
  • Shaquille O’Neal
  • Chris Webber
  • Tim Duncan
  • Dwight Howard
  • Andrew Bynum
  • Andre Drummond

All of them – with the exception of Drummond, who seems like a lock – became All-Stars. There’s good reason to believe the Raptors’ center will follow suit.

Valanciunas is a skilled interior scorer. He has excellent hands and good footwork, seemingly making it easy for him to create opportunities in the post.

Toronto just didn’t get him the ball enough last year. It’s on Kyle Lowry to feed Valanciunas more often this year.

If that happens, that All-Star berth could happen sooner than later – for both.

The Raptors exceeded expectations last year. Now imagine what happens if they take full advantage of, arguably, their highest-upside player.