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Jonas Valanciunas: Decrypting Toronto Raptors 2011 Draft Pick Selection

NEWARK, NJ - JUNE 23:  Jonas Valanciunas (R) from Utena, Lithuania greets NBA Commissioner David Stern after he was picked #5 overall by the Toronto Raptors in the first round during the 2011 NBA Draft at the Prudential Center on June 23, 2011 in Newark, New Jersey.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Mike Stobe/Getty Images
Konstantinos CharitopoulosContributor IJune 24, 2011

It's the Draft night. Toronto the opportunity of selecting either Kemba Walker or Brandon Knight. Both have the potential to be rookie of the year candidates. 

But...

The Toronto Raptors selected the 19-year-old Lithuanian PF/C, Jonas Valanciunas.

What are the facts till now about this player?

  • He's way better defensively than the current center, Andrea Bargnani (who isn't a Center after all)
  • He can play center
  • He's only 19, so he has the potential to improve and dominate (?) the game.
  • He's only 19, so he's too young to compete the opponents' centers
  • He's too thin right now to compete at an NBA level
  • He may not play the forthcoming season(if there is going to be a season), or even the next season
  • He's another European. Not so soft but definitely not so tough. He didn't dominate in Europe (of course he's too young so he didn't play a lot)

In a few words, he is a risky pick.

Raptors picked the "logical" type of player, meaning that the team needed a true, defensive center. The team also has two point guards, Calderon and Bayless, the latter is only 22 to 23 and is considered to be the starting PG from now on.

So they selected the best available center for the team, and they can trade some players to bring more talent.

The fans (including me) expected someone else, especially when they saw that Knight and Walker were available.

This pick can be Bryan Colangelo's disaster or his magic trick. Jonas became his biggest bet (much bigger than Bargnani). If he proves that he belongs to NBA, then Bryan Colangelo will be considered a "mastermind". Otherwise, he will be searching for work in two years time.

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