Yahoo: Valanciunas ready to win fans over
Old 10-17-2012, 12:58 PM   #1 (permalink)
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"He loves to dunk. Everything around the rim, he just tries to tear the rim down."

Describing the game of Lithuanian national team teammate Jonas Valanciunas, Real Madrid guard Martynas Pocius didn't waste any time before mentioning the dunking. It's Valanciunas' favourite thing. Actually, rebounding and dunking, Valanciunas says, when asked what he loves best when on the basketball court.

When the Toronto Raptors selected Valanciunas with the fifth pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, their fan base wasn't initially sure how to react. After a handful of disappointing seasons, missing the playoffs and losing Chris Bosh, they wanted something to be excited about. A player they were familiar with. A personality they could easily root for. Instead, they were given a European big man they didn't know much about, but were promised they would love.

A year later (Valanciunas had to spend another season with Lietuvos Rytas before joining the Raptors) it took just one week of training camp for all of the players, coaching staff and front office personnel to realize that in addition to drafting a big man with a ton of potential, they'd also drafted one of the most personable players in the '11 draft class. He is exactly what Toronto fans have been waiting for.



While Valanciunas missed almost all of training camp because of a calf injury and has played in just two preseason games thus far, the hype is here and it's easy to see why. A 20 year-old seven-footer who likes contact, has good hands, makes free throws with ease and loves basketball is a sight for sore eyes.

Let's get this out of the way right now: Jonas Valanciunas loves the game of basketball. Not in the love-it-because-I'm tall-and-this-is-what-I'm-going-to-do kind of way. He loves it in the because-it's-all-I-do-because-all-I-want-to-do-is-win-and-all-I-want-to-be-is-the-best kind of way.

"In my blood," is how Valanciunas explained his passion for the game while pointing to his heart beating below his practice uniform. "I was really young … I came to the basketball practice. Since that time, I've been in love with basketball."

In Lithuania where basketball is life in the way that hockey seems to rule Canada, Valanciunas has been living away from his family since he was 14 years old (that's six years of living solo prior to this rookie season). It wasn't easy on Valanciunas' mother, Danute, to allow her son to move to Vilnius alone at such a young age, but he feels it has made him better prepared for NBA life here in North America.

"[The] first year was really hard," Valanciunas explained. "After a year, after two years, I adjusted and that made it easier. I think it helped for me. Now I can stay alone. For example, now in Toronto it's a new city for me and I'm alone here." He quickly continued, "I'm not alone, I have my teammates, actually. But no one from my family is here."

While Valanciunas was falling in love with basketball, his mother had other plans for him.

"I was in dance lessons since I was young," he said with a smile. "I was, I think, eight years old. I was dancing. I was in dance lessons. It took me three years and I quit after I realized that basketball is my way. My life way." He flashed that grin as he shook his head and emphasized, "Basketball. Not dancing."

Jonas won't dance, don't ask him (Getty Images)Despite their differing views on his destined career, Valanciunas credits his mother with keeping him grounded and said they are very close and talk often via Skype. The two will be reunited this Christmas when Danute comes to Toronto to spend the holiday with her son.

Lithuanians are relieved that Valanciunas recognized his gifts and fell in love with their sport. Arvydas Sabonis, a Hall of Famer and the most talented pivot man ever to come out of Lithuania, was quoted in a story by Sports Illustrated writer Luke Winn as saying, "…Valanciunas is the future of our country. We don't have another big man like him.
Toronto Raptor fans rejoice, Jonas Valanciunas is ready to win you over | Ball Don't Lie - Yahoo! Sports
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Old 10-17-2012, 01:07 PM   #2 (permalink)
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that was a good read, thanks for that post. Cannot wait to see him play more
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Old 10-17-2012, 02:35 PM   #3 (permalink)
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that was a good read, thanks for that post. Cannot wait to see him play more
Yep. He is a very hard working and consistant player. I wouldn't be surprsed if he plays 36mins a game this season and average double double. I think he can do that.
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Old 10-17-2012, 02:39 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Yep. He is a very hard working and consistant player. I wouldn't be surprsed if he plays 36mins a game this season and average double double. I think he can do that.
If he does that, I think he'd win rookie of the year. I'm in no way expecting him to average a double double, nor average 36 mins a game
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Old 10-17-2012, 02:47 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I saw the exact same article on a detroit forum with Drummond's name on it.
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Old 10-17-2012, 02:51 PM   #6 (permalink)
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well casey said in an interview today that he will play as many minutes as he can possibly play, as long as he is doing something good
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Old 10-17-2012, 02:55 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I saw the exact same article on a detroit forum with Drummond's name on it.
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Old 10-17-2012, 03:00 PM   #8 (permalink)
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well casey said in an interview today that he will play as many minutes as he can possibly play, as long as he is doing something good
If that's the case, then I'm downright giddy. with 30-35 mins/game I can see JV averaging something around 10,8,2,2 (assists) with possibly more rebounds. I'd be over the moon
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Old 10-17-2012, 05:27 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Good, Val is killin it, his motor is too good.
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Old 10-17-2012, 06:37 PM   #10 (permalink)
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If that's the case, then I'm downright giddy. with 30-35 mins/game I can see JV averaging something around 10,8,2,2 (assists) with possibly more rebounds. I'd be over the moon
Well He can get those 10 points easily, we shots in the post and heading to the ft line is not a problem to him too. The question should be if he can grab 10 boards per game, but as an article states is his favourite thing so today I expect something like double double )
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Old 10-17-2012, 06:53 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I saw the exact same article on a detroit forum with Drummond's name on it.
Sabonis said Drummonds the next big thing from Lithuania?
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Old 10-17-2012, 06:59 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I think JonasV will mirror Marc Gasol's rookie season.
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Old 10-17-2012, 07:35 PM   #13 (permalink)
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He's definitely winning me over

Initially,I didn't want to rush to any judgment until I seen him compete against NBA competition but so far through a few preseason games,a lot that he does impresses me. He's aggressive on both sides of the floor,wants to be involved. JV has that all-star mentality where they want to change the game.
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