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Dwane Casey says Jonas has earned his starting job
Raptors coach Dwane Casey says Jonas Valanciunas has earned his starting job | NBA | Sports | National Post
Before the pre-season, it was easy to expect that rookie Jonas Valanciunas would start his NBA career as a reserve.
Rookies are not often rewarded with immediate starting spots, especially when they are expected to be the last line of defence before the rim. And with two viable alternatives in Amir Johnson and Aaron Gray (for matchup purposes against plodding big men), the smart money had Valanciunas coming off of the bench on Wednesday night in Indiana.
Instead, he will almost certainly be starting against Roy Hibbert of the Pacers.
“As a matter of fact, he’s earned it,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “He’s a guy who is talented. Does he make mistakes? Yes, as most rookies do. His upside is huge. It’s also time to give him a taste of how the game is played, how guys like Hibbert, guys like [Brooklyn’s Brook] Lopez [play]. He’s our future. He’s our foundation in the middle. So, why not now? Our other guys are mature enough and professional enough to understand it.”
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In six pre-season games, five of which were starts, Valanciunas averaged 8.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. He is expected to start along side Andrea Bargnani, Landry Fields, DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry.
• On Saturday, the Raptors released centre Jamaal Magloire, the first Canadian ever to play for the Raptors. On Monday, Casey praised Magloire for his time in Toronto.
“He is a first-class human being,” Casey said. “To me, what he did for our team last year is irreplaceable. He started the foundation of toughness, the defensive approach, communication, the whole nine yards. He started that. Him and Bryan [Colangelo] are going to sit down and talk about his role with us. We want him around, working with the players, in the community. He is what the NBA is about. He is a … Canadian, and the country should be proud that they have a guy that exemplifies the way you should live, on the court and off the court, as a basketball player.”
Magloire is expected to take a role within the Raptors organization if he does not catch on with another team.
• This statistic comes courtesy of John Schuhmann of nba.com: Of the 21 teams that have lost fewer than two pre-season games since the 2001-02 season (excluded the lockout-shortened pre-season last year), 19 of them went on to make the playoffs.
The only exceptions were two incarnations of the Utah Jazz: the 2003-04 club and the 2010-11 club. The Raptors went 6-1 in the pre-season.