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Latest on Valanciunas' Playing Status
Wednesday, March 23
Raptors Had Depth to Overcome Short-Term Valanciunas Absence
Prior to his latest injury, the Toronto big man had already missed 17 games this season with a broken left hand and did not opt for surgery, according to The Vertical's Shams Charania.
In his fourth year in the NBA, Valanciunas has finally begun to turn the corner as a solid NBA center.
He's enjoying a career year so far with the Raptors, averaging 12.9 points and a career-best 9.1 rebounds in 26.2 minutes per game. Toronto has established a firm lead in the Atlantic Division over the Boston Celtics, and it's due in large part to Valanciunas' 17 double-doubles.
Fortunately for Toronto, losing Valanciunas wasn't a major blow because the Raptors have enough depth at the center position, with Bismack Biyombo serving as a reliable backup. But when it comes to offensive production in the post, Biyombo can't provide that, averaging only 5.6 points per game.
Valanciunas has proved to be a reliable scorer when given the ball. The averages may not reflect it, but he is just as critical to the Raptors' success as Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. Biyombo needs to find a way to do more than just block shots and get rebounds, even with Valanciunas returning, as the Raptors look to win the championship this season.