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Jonas Valanciunas isn't yet the player Toronto thinks he one day can be. The team is better on offense and defense when he sits, and his defensive awareness is lacking at the end of games.
But hey, calm down. He's still only 21 years old, getting better every month. Valanciunas will rip a ball off the glass or bulldoze his way to two points on a post-up. This isn't his breakout season by any stretch of the imagination, but it's more than fair to point out his improvement since opening night and how his provided skills are helping.
As Raptors HQ's Zach Salzmann recently wrote:
It's been an up-and-down year for Jonas so far, and many of us have wanted to see a little more from a guy who looked great in pre-season and who, let's not forget, was a top-5 draft pick. But big-men time take to develop and Jonas is most certainly a work in progress. Amidst all the euphoria surrounding the Raps right now, it might be wise to have a little patience and take a few deep breaths when it comes to Mr. Valanciunas.
He's been a first-quarter ox in March, averaging 6.4 points on 62 percent shooting. And since the All-Star break, Toronto's most lethal five-man unit has had Valanciunas at center, complementing Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Ross in whatever ways they need him to. Throw in Amir Johnson at power forward, and they're scoring like a top-five offense and mucking it up like a top-seven defense.
The young big man isn't perfect, but he's gotten better as the season's gone on. In the weeks ahead, he could have a seriously positive impact on Toronto's playoff run.