Simmons: Valanciunas gives Raptors a glimmer of hope
Old 07-31-2012, 07:59 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Raptors Simmons: Valanciunas gives Raptors a glimmer of hope

Jonas Valanciunas provides glimmer of hope for Raptors | London 2012 News | London 2012 | Toronto Sun


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LONDON - Jose Calderon was standing in the corner of the basketball venue, behind a typical Olympic barrier, catching a glimpse of the future of the team he may not be with much longer.

“What do you think?” Calderon was asked.

“He’s good,” he said with a smile, pointing at the big man. “I like him. He’s very good.”

At that moment, Jonas Valanciunas, the big man almost no one has seen, all arms and legs and a bundle of surprising big-man energy, had swatted away a Nigerian shot, the second block in the same sequence that brought the pro-Lithuanian crowd to its flag-waving feet and a look of approval to Calderon’s face.

“That’s what he does,” said Linas Kleiza, his Lithuania and Toronto teammate. “I think he’s going to be a big difference maker. It’s just going to take some time. He needs time.”

At first glance of the 7-foot Valanciunas on a basketball court you see an athlete who isn’t as skinny as advertised. He’s not exactly built like LeBron James, either, but he’s not skinny the way Chris Bosh was in his first few years either. He seems, in some ways, to be the anti-Andrea Bargnani. He wants to play defence. He wants to be physical. He wants to get involved and rebound.
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My main weapon, I can run,” Valanciunas said post-game in a rare one-on-one interview in the mixed zone at the basketball venue. “I cannot say I’m really athletic. That’s not what you’ll see from me. But I can run, I can jump some, and that’s why I can play with these (NBA) guys. I’m not a player who just stands still. I don’t really like posting, I don’t like set offence. I like the pick and rolls. I like to play aggressive defence and rebound and I love [you could see this against the Nigerian team on American-based Nigerians] to block shots.”

Valunciunas has presence, on the court, off the court, different from so many of the 20-year-olds who have found their way to Toronto in the past to play for the Raptors. The big centre makes eye contact, speaks English comfortably, shakes hands as though he cares about the person he’s talking to, wants to make an impression. That much is clear: He doesn’t want to just fit in.
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The other day, he met with Calderon in the Village, just to talk about Toronto and what lays ahead.

He said with his eyes wide. “It was a good talk. He is nice guy,” said Valanciunas. But then he gets this sly smile on his face when he talks about seeing — and playing against — Team USA, many of the players being those he grew up worshipping.

“We play them,” he said. “I look forward to that. That is an important game for me, and important game for us.”

That is the separation you have to make here at the Olympic Games. The NBA is a league of stars: The Olympics is all about team. “The team result is more important than my result,” said Valanciunas. “I want to win. I always want to win. The winning team is the best team.”

It’s the part Valanciunas will have to get used to in Toronto. Not winning. He was with the winning team at the equivalent of the world juniors for basketball in 2011, on the winning team at the Under-18 European championships, on the winning team for the Under-16s. He just happened to be the MVP in all three of those tournaments.

“I don’t measure my game by statistics,” said Valanciunas. “I measure it by wins.”

“Look at what he does now,” said Kleiza, the Raptor who plays a scoring and leadership role for Lithuania here. “Think of the future. The future is very bright for him. He’s going to be a very good player.”

It just won’t be immediate. The old adage is that big men take longer to develop and that will be true with Valanciunas, but he will bring to Toronto and the Raptors something that’s been missing for some time: An edge. A defence-first presence. An unbridled enthusiasm. How often do you see an NBA centre being first player up the court? For Lithuania, often Valanciunas was first up the court Tuesday.

Quote:
“I’m focused on the Olympic Games,” said the first-time Olympian. “When it’s going to be finished, then I’ll be concentrated on Toronto Raptors.”

A Raptors team he hopes Calderon will be a part of. But Calderon, through his agent, has reportedly asked to be traded, after the Raptors signing of point guard Kyle Lowry. And in a text message response Tuesday, general manager Bryan Colangelo said nothing was new on the Calderon situation.

To date, Calderon himself has made no public statement on the matter. Why? “Because there is nothing to say,” he said. “This is the Olympics for now. I’m concentrating on the Olympics. There’s nothing else to say. Sorry.”

Last edited by jeffb; 07-31-2012 at 08:14 PM.
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Old 07-31-2012, 08:23 PM   #2 (permalink)
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"The team result is more important than my result,” said Valanciunas. “I want to win. I always want to win. The winning team is the best team.”
Bam. Instantly in love with Big V.
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Old 07-31-2012, 08:51 PM   #3 (permalink)
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That's good because I love to watch shots being blocked.
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Old 07-31-2012, 09:21 PM   #4 (permalink)
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When does Lithuania face USA?
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Old 07-31-2012, 09:25 PM   #5 (permalink)
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When does Lithuania face USA?
Saturday
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Old 08-01-2012, 01:03 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I am going to make a point of watching his match against the US.

Should be interesting to see how he matches up against the best of the best.
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Old 08-01-2012, 02:29 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by pigspigs76 View Post
I am going to make a point of watching his match against the US.

Should be interesting to see how he matches up against the best of the best.
That will be a must watch for Raptor fans.

You know he's got that date circled on his calendar and hopefully he brings his A game and forces the coach to keep him in.
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Old 08-01-2012, 02:51 PM   #8 (permalink)
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i hope he does well against the us, but i expect him to get his ass handed to him. he's a skinny 20 year old with minimal experience at the highest level playing against a stacked opponent with loads of experience and a front line that he may not match up well against. i expect chandler to agitate him, throw him around and get him into foul trouble. any other us bigs are really tough covers for him because of range and mobility, except maybe anthony davis. that matchup would be fun to watch.

he has the opportunity to do well, and i really and truly hope that he does, but chances are that he won't look very good, and that won't change my longer-term hope for him one bit. he's an exciting player, but he's young and has a lot to learn. hopefully he sponges up this experience. i'm pulling for him for sure.
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Old 08-01-2012, 02:57 PM   #9 (permalink)
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He's a PF/C he won't, and cannot do squat against the US. The US is so incredibly stacked that they will have no trouble erasing him or anyone else on that squad.

Thing is, JV threatens Davis this year as a rookie, the US players know that, and they will absolutely be looking to crush him in every way possible to support their boy.
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Old 08-01-2012, 03:26 PM   #10 (permalink)
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The US have elite perimter players. The 2 bigs, Love will hang oustide the key and Chandler will bang down low. Little opportuniy for Jonas, but the focus will be on the other Raptor player Kleiza. Kleiza will have his hands full with Lebron, Durant, Carmelo etc.
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Old 08-01-2012, 03:33 PM   #11 (permalink)
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It'll be good for Jonas to blow through his starstruck rook phase in a hurry, and not have that sort of distraction during the nba season as much.
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Old 08-01-2012, 03:37 PM   #12 (permalink)
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LX.

Can't agree more, thats why I was so happy they got in and that guy got hurt. These two weeks will be great for him...no waiting on the schedule for some new "star struck moment" he will get them all out in England. When he's done, they wont be stars anymore, they will be challenges.

Maybe Toronto gets lucky finally eh?
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Old 08-01-2012, 04:47 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Superjudge View Post
He's a PF/C he won't, and cannot do squat against the US. The US is so incredibly stacked that they will have no trouble erasing him or anyone else on that squad.

Thing is, JV threatens Davis this year as a rookie, the US players know that, and they will absolutely be looking to crush him in every way possible to support their boy.
Davis *may* be the better NBA prospect (I still don't see much if any separation between him and Val) but even at this point when you look at Val's body it's clear he is more suited for the international game. Davis is pathetically skinny, almost Kevin Durant in college skinny, and I think if you were to put him in Val's shoes as the starting centre on the Lithuanian team...he'd be way worse off.

You're right, Val will get manhandled on Saturday, but it will be good for him...I think he's got a better shot at dealing with the physicality than Davis would. All I know is it's going to be a ton of fun to see them match up during the game, because you know it's going to happen at some point. Both those guys will be gunning for each other.
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Old 08-01-2012, 06:23 PM   #14 (permalink)
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We are close to a .500 team withou the players we added
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Old 08-01-2012, 06:28 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Davis *may* be the better NBA prospect (I still don't see much if any separation between him and Val) but even at this point when you look at Val's body it's clear he is more suited for the international game. Davis is pathetically skinny, almost Kevin Durant in college skinny, and I think if you were to put him in Val's shoes as the starting centre on the Lithuanian team...he'd be way worse off.

You're right, Val will get manhandled on Saturday, but it will be good for him...I think he's got a better shot at dealing with the physicality than Davis would. All I know is it's going to be a ton of fun to see them match up during the game, because you know it's going to happen at some point. Both those guys will be gunning for each other.
Oh, I think you misread me here man. I just mean they will collectively be looking to bring it at him and to shut his ass down. If they leave him alone with Davis he will manhandle that skinny prick.
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Old 08-01-2012, 06:45 PM   #16 (permalink)
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word, we agree then. let's get ice cream.
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Old 08-01-2012, 08:17 PM   #17 (permalink)
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I've actually watched the couple of games Lithuania has played so far - JV is not skinny. Not at all. He is ready to bang with the big boys today and he is a centre and plays like one too. I expect him to try very hard against the US and I expect him to be super-aggressive, just like he was in the first two games. And who knows, maybe he will even get a chance to block LeBron?
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Old 08-01-2012, 08:37 PM   #18 (permalink)
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The only players Team USA is looking at to shut down is the Gasol brothers, Tony Parker, Russia and Scola/Ginobli. Any other thoughts are directed at beach volleyball and late night action in the athlete's village. Valanciunas has crossed their thoughts probably about as much as Romdhane.

Definitely great experience though - would be even better if he had a better squad surrounding him.
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Old 08-01-2012, 08:54 PM   #19 (permalink)
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All I know is he has more hops than CB1!

& I can't wait for Leo to yell "that's a 7 footer doing that all season" yuck!
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Old 08-01-2012, 09:01 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Lets put it this way, in u19 when Lithuania played against USA JV had something like 30pts 15 rebounds and 4 blocks, he shot 2pts 55% accuracy and ft's 80%

These stats to me says that he would be dominating in the NCAA.. Is he better than Anthony Davis at the moment? absolutely.. Does he have less potential? according to everybody, Yes (even though I don't quite understand why)
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