Toronto Raptors Preview: 3 Ways Jonas Valanciunas Impacts the Team

Jeff LangridgeCorrespondent IIISeptember 26, 2012

Toronto Raptors Preview: 3 Ways Jonas Valanciunas Impacts the Team

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    The Toronto Raptors drafted Jonas Valanciunas in the 2011 NBA draft knowing that they would have to wait a year for his services.

    That year has passed, and Valanciunas has crossed the Atlantic, ready to join the team. The big Lithuanian will immediately walk into the starting center position, being mentored by the returning Jamaal Magloire.

    Now that Valanciunas is ready to become an official Toronto Raptor, fans are wondering what he can do in the red, white and black uniform.

    Here are three ways that Valanciunas impacts the Raptors.

Gives the Raptors a Big Man

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    Let's get the obvious out of the way first: At just an inch shorter than seven feet tall, Jonas Valanciunas is the Toronto Raptors' tallest player on their roster.

    As all basketball fans know, the game is built on tall players. While the Raptors have had big men in the past, they were either not that good to begin with or at the end of their careers.

    Valanciunas is at the beginning of a promising career, and even though he will have troubles as a rookie, he gives the Raptors something they haven't had in a long time.

Gives the Raptors a True Center

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    Marcus Camby. Keon Clark. Hakeem Olajuwon. Antonio Davis. Jermaine O'Neal. Chris Bosh. Andrea Bargnani. All of these players have tended the center position for the Raptors over their history.

    While Olajuwon might be the best center to ever play the game, the one season he played in Toronto was his last and definitely not his best. Some of them didn't even exclusively play center, like Bargnani and Bosh.

    Valancuinas has the potential to become one of the best centers in Raptors history. If he can develop correctly over the next few seasons, the Raptors will have no problems at the center position for the foreseeable future.

Adds to a Young Core that Will Grow Together

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    Over the past few years, the Raptors have been amassing a group of young players that will grow together. It started with the drafting of DeMar DeRozan in 2009 and Ed Davis in 2010.

    This past offseason, they brought in Landry Fields and Kyle Lowry to expand the youth movement.

    The Raptors have waited for Valanciunas since they drafted him last year. While there will be growing pains, as there are with all young players, Valanciunas will eventually be one of Toronto's best players.

    Once all these players mesh and form a unit, the Raptors will become a better team and fans will finally have something to cheer about.