Comparing Young Toronto Raptors Players to NBA Veterans

Hasib MoeenAnalyst IISeptember 11, 2011

Comparing Young Toronto Raptors Players to NBA Veterans

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    With the NBA lockout over our heads there isn't a lot of news to talk about for most basketball fans, but luckily that isn't the case for Raptors fans. The Raptors are a young squad with many talented players who have great potential, so fans like you and I could spend days debating over the players and the teams' future.

    The Toronto Raptors are in the midst of a rebuilding project and have invested heavily on young players. The NBA has seen many similar players come and go, and while every player is unique in his own way, all sorts of different player "types" have been classified by fans and analysts over the years. We have tweeners, combo guards, high-energy players, stiff players, sharp shooters, volume scorers, and the list could go on forever.

    This is no different for the Raptors, and many of our young players can be compared to NBA veterans who have shared similarities in their games. Before I tried to take a shot at guessing what those players will be capable of in their peak seasons, but now I'm going to attempt to compare each young Raptor to an already established Veteran/former player.

    The hope is to find a veteran clone for each one of our young players that shared the same skill set, and if a good match is found it could give us an idea of just how good they could become.

    The format which is shown will first suggest who the player was compared to when they first came into the league, who they are compared to today, and it also includes a best and worst case scenario for each young Raptor since predicting these things accurately is nearly impossible.

    Please leave a comment and give your opinion and thoughts, will any of these players turn out to be like their veteran comparison? Was there a better comparison for a player which wasn't mentioned? Leave a comment and join the conversation!

Ed Davis

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    Eddy just finished his rookie season and was pretty good despite having to play in a crowded position which only offered 24.6 minutes per game. Davis averaged 7.7 points and 7.1 boards. Davis can definitely score and rebound, but his bread and butter in future years should be his defense and shot-blocking ability.

    Coming Into the league: Before being drafted Davis was compared to solid powerforwards of the past like P.J Brown and some said he could even look like Shawn Kemp in a few years.

    Comparison: Personally if I had to compare Ed Davis to any veteran in the league, I'm going to have to go with Kenyon Martin. Martin was a star in NJ and is still a solid veteran in the league today.

    In his best NBA statistical season, Martin averaged 16.7 points, 9.5 boards, and he was also good for 1.5 steals and 1.3 blocks per game. Martin wasn't a stat sheet stuffer, but was a very solid defender who played with great intesity. Martin helped the Nets reach the NBA Finals twice in 2002 and in 2003, and made the All-star team in 2004.

    Ed Davis isn't known for intimidation, but it was only his rookie season and he should be much more comfortable next year.

    Best case: Al Jefferson. While I think Ed Davis' best comparison is Kenyon Martin, there's always the chance that he'll surprise and do even better. If Davis works hard on his post game and adds size, he could become a very useful offensive talent like Al Jefferson, except with more hustle on defense.

    Worst case: Samuel Dalembert. While Davis is a power forward and has more mobility than Dalembert, he's very raw on offense. The worst case scenario would be Davis failing to be anything more than a solid role player, because most teams would make him play out of position as a center, and that would contribute to the problem.

Jerryd Bayless

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    Jerryd Bayless flourished for the Raptors last season after being bounced around the league looking to establish himself in a bigger role. Bayless is a very solid player who can get to the free throw line at will, score from outside, and play solid defence. In only 24.6 minutes, Bayless averaged 9.2 points, and 3.7 assists.

    The Raptors hired Dwane Casey as the head coach in June, and many feel Bayless will see a bigger role since Casey will demand a lot from players on the defensive end of the floor. Sonny Weems will not play for Toronto next season, and that will also help Bayless secure more playing time.

    Coming Into the league: Coming into the league people couldn't decide whether Bayless had star potential or was going to be an inefficient ball hog. Some went as far as to compare Bayless to Gilbert Arenas since both players possessed tremendous speed and scoring ability, but others felt he would play as an undersized scoring guard like Nate Robinson.

    Comparison: Bayless is a very skilled scorer, and with a starting role he could play a lot like Steve Francis has. Francis wasn't a traditional point guard but still dished out and average of 6.4 assists in his prime. Francis was an all-star, but he also played 39.2 minutes per game in his best seasons; if Bayless would be given the same opportunities he could also produce similar numbers.

    Another player who Bayless resembles is Chauncey Billups. Billups also failed to establish himself in the NBA until finally arriving in Detroit in his seventh season. Before breaking out Billups was very similar to Bayless because he wasn't a great distributor and shot under 40 percent from the field. When Billups played for Detroit he averaged 16.4 points, and just under six assists in 34.6 minutes. Had Bayless received the same amount of playing time last season, he would've averaged 15.5 points and 6.4 assists.

    Best Case: Monta Ellis/Eric Gordon. I highly doubt Bayless would ever reach the level of Monta Ellis or Eric Gordon, but there's always that outside chance that a young player like him could take a huge leap forward unexpectedly. Ellis and Bayless have similar tendencies, but Ellis is a much better shooter and Bayless is the better defender. Gordon on the other hand is also a good defender and has the potential to be an even more dangerous scorer than Ellis in the future.

    Worst Case: Jameer Nelson. Jameer Nelson is one of my favourite players, and he is by no means a bad player. Nelson was an all-star in '08-'09 when he averaged 16.7 points and 5.4 assists. Bayless' "worst case" scenario would be Jameer Nelson only because Nelson never really lived up to his full potential.

    Jameer Nelson has a modest career average of 12.5 points and 4.9 assists, but the scoring point guard had trouble with playing time his entire career because of his size and tendency to shoot first. Nelson was only six feet tall which contributed to the problem, but his career average of 28 minutes per game was low for someone with that much skill.

    Jerryd Bayless could turn out like Nelson because he might not ever get a real chance to run an offense as long as teams view him as a shoot first guard. What could make things worse for Bayless is if he's forced to play as a shooting guard, which would make him a disadvantage due to his size (like Nelson).

Andrea Bargnani

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    Andrea Bargnani isn't a very young player and should be entering his prime within the next few seasons, but he still hasn't figured himself out as a player. The seven footer averaged 21.4 points per game, but only managed to grab 5.4 rebounds. Bargnani seemed unmotivated rebound last year, but now he's determined to step up his game even further.

    Coming into the league: Andrea Bargnani was drafted first overall, so coming into the league he was expected to be the next great European player. The Raptors picked Bargnani hoping he would become a solid defensive player with time, and they were swept away by his impressive offensive skills. Andrea Bargnani was widely considered as a Dirk Nowitzki clone, but the Raptors were probably hoping he would be the better defender and rebounder seeing as how they picked him with Chris Bosh on the Roster.

    Comparison: Keith Van Horn. Van Horn was a very solid pro in the NBA, and retired in 2008. Like Bargnani Van Horn was drafted very high (second overall), and his game was based on his tremendous ability to shoot despite being 6'10".

    Van Horn was actually a better rebounder than Bargnani averaging 7.3 boards per game in his first eight seasons, and having a career average of 6.8 rebounds. Despite this, I feel Bargnani will be much like Van Horn in the future, because he has the potential to be better on the glass, but will never really become a defensive presence.

    Like Bargnani Van Horn was criticized for his defence. In 2002 he was traded to Philadelphia for Dikembe Mutumbo, and his old coach Byron Scott expressed how much the team benefited after replacing Van Horn for a defensive minded player.

    Van Horn was a very solid offensive player averaging a career high of 21.8 points in his second season, and averaging just under 18 points in his first eight seasons. Bargnani still has the potential to score more than that, but the Raptors weren't a talented team last year and Jay Triano's coaching system created more opportunities for Bargnani. If Bargnani is to play on a playoff team he might regress statistically.

    Keith Van Horn was relatively young when he retired (32 years-old), and the role he played during the end of his career is a cause for concern in regards to Andrea Bargnani. Van Horn played on five different teams and wasn't valued much by those teams despite being a very productive player. In his final three seasons Van Horn was forced to play off the bench and produced less, but if you were to adjust his minutes to what he received in previous seasons, Van Horn was still good for 15 points per game.

    The fact that a player like Van Horn was best utilized off the bench is a cause for concern because the Raptors are hoping Bargnani can be a key player on a playoff team, and they would rather not pay someone $10 million per year to come off the bench.

    Best Case: Dirk Nowitzki/Peja Stojakovic.

    Dirk and Bargnani are still similar players, and there's no telling how much Bargnani will benefit by playing the same position as him. Last season Dirk Nowitzki played surprisingly well when the Mavericks added Tyson Chandler to the Roster, and that's a player who the Raptors have been targeting all year. Whether it's a free agent or Valanciunas, the addition of a true center could help Bargnani live up to his draft status.

    Peja Stojakovic was similar to Bargnani as well, and it would be awesome of Bargnani could thrive like Peja has. Peja was an All-star in Sacramento and won the NBA championship last year playing in Dallas. Peja is 6'10" and was arguably the best three-point shooter in the league back in his heyday.

    Stojakovic was never great at rebounding posting career averages of 4.7 rebounds per game, but he was still instrumental to many playoff teams. The reason why I can't compare Bargnani to Peja right now is because Peja was a small forward and his rebounding numbers were actually decent for a small forward. Also, it's hard to suggest Bargnani could play the same role as Peja because Bargnani isn't as agile and would have a hard time keeping up with the athletic small forwards of today.

    Worst Case: Tony Kukoc. Tony Kukoc will be remembered for his prominent role on the Chicago Bulls between 1993-1998 where the Bulls--lead by Micheal Jordon, won 3 championships. Kukoc was a very solid player and played for 17 seasons before retiring despite teams still being interested in him.

    So why would the sixth man of a championship squad be the worst case scenario for Bargnani? It's because at the end of the day Kukoc finished with career averages of 11.6 points and 4.2 rebounds, the fact that this player could be better than Bargnani hurts because it only proves that Bargnani was a big draft mistake.

    Tony Kukoc was very similar to Bargnani, he was 6'11" but would play small forward, power forward, and even shooting guard at times. Sure being versatile is a great thing, but when someone is that talented on offense and still spends most of his career coming off the bench, it makes you lose confidence in Bargnani.

    One could argue that Kukoc wasn't as good as Bargnani on offense since his scoring averages in his "prime" seasons were only around 14.1 PPG, but in the three seasons that Kukoc averaged more than 35 minutes per game, he also averaged 18.8 points and six rebounds which isn't that much worse than Bargnani.

    Overall some of the closest Bargnani comparisons were only taken seriously with bench roles, and if Bargnani fails to become a difference maker with a real role, it's safe to say he's a bust, and that is the worst case scenario for him.

James Johnson

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    James Johnson was just a bench warmer in Chicago but made the most of his opportunities in Toronto. In his first starting role ever, James Johnson has proved to be a hard nosed defender and energy player. Johnson has great athleticism and size, and he can play the small forward position despite being 6'9" and 240 pounds. Johnson has only completed his second season in the league and has the potential to be a defensive anchor for the Raptors, but he's a gym rat who could also become a pleasant surprise on offense. Johnson is older than the average sophomore at 24, so he could be primed contribute much sooner than expected.

    Coming into the league: Coming into the league James Johnson was expected to be drafted in the first round, and some mock drafts suggested he would even be picked in the lottery. He was wide and had a long wing span. Most people felt he would be an above average defender, but some believed he would also prove to be a scoring threat from downtown like a poor man's Danny Granger.

    The most commonly used NBA comparison for Johnson was Ryan Gomes. Gomes had also began playing later than most rookies, and they're both players with similar builds. Gomes was a decent offensive player who's bread and butter would be on the defensive end. In the past five seasons Gomes has averaged 11.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 30 minutes of playing time. Gomes has also been a decent three point shooter throughout his career.

    Comparison: While James Johnson really does resemble Ryan Gomes, I think Johnson will turn out to be the better player overall because Gomes has been underwhelming despite being given starters minutes on rebuilding teams.

    There are many James Johnson-type players out there, but I feel he plays a lot like Josh Smith and somewhat like Gerald Wallace. Both players are All-stars that are capable of averaging two steals and blocks while still putting up well over 15 points per game. James Johnson isn't expected to become a prolific scorer, but he could eventually match Josh Smith's averages of 1.5 blocks, 1.3 steals and 8.5 rebounds last season.

    Offensively Johnson could play a lot like Trever Ariza who thrives in transition but isn't a go-to scorer.

    Best Case: Shawn Marion. James Johnson will never be a superstar the way Shawn Marion was in Phoenix, actually if he could do half of what Marion did every night he would still be considered a successful player. In his best statistical season, Marion averaged 21.8 points, 12 rebounds, two blocks, and two steals.

    Despite this Johnson can still play a similar role to what Marion played on the contending Suns years ago.  If Johnson truly flourishes in Casey's system, his career stats could resemble the older Shawn Marion that we've seen in the past four years who averaged 13.2 points, eight rebounds, 1.3 steals, and one block per game in that span of time.

    Worst Case: Because the Raptors traded close to nothing for Johnson, it's hard to suggest a scenario where Toronto would regret trading for him.

    Some people have high hopes for Johnson however, and enthusiasts would be disappointed to see him fail to improve for the upcoming season. I think the "worst case" scenario for Johnson would be to end up like Malik Rose.

    Rose was a decent basketball player who peaked in '02-'03 with averages of 10.4 points and 6.4 rebounds. Rose was a undersized power forward but he was skilled in many areas of the game but not great at one particular facet. One of Rose's assets was his ability to pass the ball.

    Malik Rose had a career average of 6.2 points, 4.1 rebounds, 0.8 assists, and 0.6 steals. While those numbers seem low, Rose was actually decent for only receiving 16.5 minutes per game for his career. If we adjust Rose's career stats to 36 minutes of play, he could have averaged 13.5 points, 8.9 rebounds, 1.3 steals, and 0.9 blocks.

    So why would this be the worst case scenario for Johnson? Rose failed to receive playing time and spent his career quietly coming off the bench similar to how Johnson had to endure very limited playing time on the Bulls. If Johnson doesn't impress for the Raptors, they could replace him via free agency/the draft, and there's no telling if Johnson will ever see a starting opportunity again.

Joey Dorsey

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    Joey Dorsey is an undersized power forward who provided immediate help off the bench for Toronto last season. Dorsey is a very good rebounder and he is also good for a few hustle plays in the few minutes he gets. Dorsey is 6'8" and 260 pounds, and his size hurts him because it's hard for him to stay out of foul trouble.

    Coming into the league: Coming into the league Dorsey was often compared to Bo Outlaw and some went as far as to compare him to Ben Wallace. Dorsey wasn't viewed as a first round pick because he was a senior who didn't have much upside to start with.

    Comparison: It's actually funny because when I saw what Dorsey would bring last season it was almost identical to the approach Reggie Evans would bring. It's possible playing alongside of Evans helped Dorsey learn how to thrive with a limited role despite being shorter than other big men.

    Reggie Evans and Joey Dorsey are both 6'8", and they both lack offensive games. Evans is the more accomplished rebounder averaging 11.5 rebounds last season, but Dorsey was also very solid in his time as a starting center where he averaged 10.8 rebounds.

    Reggie Evans was a beast who averaged 15.6 rebounds per 36 minutes, and Dorsey was also very efficient averaging 13.1 rebounds per 36 minutes. While both players would have a hard time ever seeing that kind of playing time, they can both be very useful to teams in need of bench production.

    Best Case: Amir Johnson. It's kind of weird having three Raptors on the same slide, and it's especially weird comparing the 27 year old Dorsey to the 24 year-old Johnson, but Dorsey would love to develop into a player like Johnson.

    Amir Johnson is a solid power forward who was injured throughout last season, and played on a crowded front court. Johnson averaged 9.6 points and 6.4 rebounds despite his problems and limited playing time. Like Dorsey Johnson is also a tad undersized at 6'9", but Johnson's main advantage over Dorsey is his athleticism and offensive ability.

    Johnson and Dorsey had similar numbers in their third seasons, and if Dorsey could learn to score the way Johnson has, he could also become a valuable player in the league.

    Worst Case: Pops Mensah-Bonsu

    Pops was a player who excited Raptors fans and brought energy off the bench, but he never formed into anything special. He spent last season playing for the Hornets who only played him in five games. Mesnah-Bonsu was always a great rebounder per 36 minutes (career average of 12 rebounds per 36 minutes), but was never able to stay on the court for that long (career average of 5.8 fouls per 36 minutes).

    It unlikely that Pops Mensah-Bonsu will remain in the NBA much longer, and Joey Dorsey shouldn't take anything for granted because he could also end up out of the league if his next team decides not to play him.

Amir Johnson

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    Speaking of Amir Johnson, he's another young player who still hasn't reached his potential. Many fans were upset when the Raptors signed Amir Johnson to a five-year $34 million contract in 2010. Johnson has since proved to be worth the cost, and he had every excuse imaginable on his side if he hadn't lived up to the contract last season.

    Amir Johnson's height lead to multiple problems for him last season. Having to constantly lean forward and fully extend while jumping to block shots, Amir's play took a toll on his back. Throughout the season he's been aching with different injuries and struggled to stay on the court when he was OK. He couldn't stay out of foul trouble, and maybe that had a little to do with his size, but he needs to stay on the court to help this team. The Raptors are a team without a true center and four capable power forwards so Johnson was forced to play some center in the little playing time that he did receive.

    Despite all of this Johnson was very solid averaging 13.4 points and 9 rebounds per 36 minutes of play. When Johnson is back to full health expect him to further improve his game especially now that Reggie Evans is likely to leave the team.

    Coming into the league: Before being drafted Johnson was compared to Jermaine O'neal since both players had come to the NBA straight out of high school and could score and rebound well. Another common comparison was to Udonis Haslem who played a similar game and had similar size.

    Compaison: Udonis Haslem would be a very good comparison if Amir Johnson wasn't as athletic as he is. Johnson can take defenders off the dribble and doesn't post up as much as Haslem has to. Amir Johnson is also a better overall player than Haslem and could peak as 16 and 11 type player if he is given a starting role in the NBA.

    it would be better to compare Amir Johnson to Paul Millsap. Millsap is only two years older than Johnson, but Amir could become a productive player like Millsap if he continues to work on his game and develop a jump shot. Both players are aggressive and athletic, and both are a tad undersized for their positions. Millsap spent years playing behind Carlos Boozer but he has earned starters minutes through scoring efficiently and making hustle plays.

    Best Case: David West. Johnson would need to develop a post game and really break out offensively, but with luck Amir Johnson's "best case" scenario would be to become a David West type player.

    West isn't the greatest rebounder, and he doesn't block many shots either being 6'9", but he's been a legitimate All-star for the bulk of his career.

    Worst case: Melvin Ely.

    Melvin Ely is a player who played on the Denver Nuggets last season and has had a very underwhelming career since being picked 12th overall by the Clippers in the 2002 NBA Draft. Ely was a similar player to Johnson, he was mobile and would fight for rebounds. Ely had spent most of his career coming off the bench because of his inability to stay out of foul trouble.

    In his peak season Melvin Ely averaged 9.8 points and grabbed 4.8 rebounds per game in 23.6 minutes a night. Since then however Ely has failed to crack double digits in scoring, and will be remembered as a bench warmer.

    If all goes wrong and Amir Johnson's injuries limit him throughout his career, a worst case scenario for Johnson could be ending up like Melvin Ely.

Demar DeRozan

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    Demar DeRozan broke out last season averaging 17.2 PPG nearly double what he put up in his rookie season. DeRozan still has a lot of work ahead of him but many expect him to become an all-star as he has all of the intangibles that star players come with, and he just needs time to polish his game.

    With coach Dwane Casey putting emphasis on defense next season, DeRozan could become a game changer on both sides of the floor. DeRozan has great work ethic and can only improve on his dismal three-point shot moving forward, but with just a consistent mid-range jumper DeRozan could easily crack the 20 PPG mark. Then there are things like his size and ball handling, two attributes which will slowly come to him after he spends more time in the league and becomes more comfortable as Toronto's go-to guy.

    Coming into the league: Coming into the league DeRozan was compared to NBA players like Josh Howard and Ronnie Brewer.

    Josh Smith was an All-star not to long ago, and it's safe to say that was a fair comparison. At this point in his career DeRozan hasn't established himself defensively like those two players have since he's not as long, but on the same token DeRozan is a step ahead of them in athleticism and is much more creative on offense.

    Comparison: Vince Carter. Hate to be a typical Raptor fan but I'm going to do it with this slide.

    Vince Carter was Toronto's greatest player who was a superstar from the get-go. Carter was 21 years of age in his rookie season and DeRozan was 21 last  year. If we look at their numbers at that age we see that Carter averaged 1.1 points, 1.1 blocks, 1.1 assists, and 1.9 rebounds more than DeRozan. That's not a huge difference, and we're talking about perennial all-star.

    DeRozan isn't as polished as carter on defense or at perimeter shooting, but those were two areas which Carter himself struggled to overcome initially.

    If Demar DeRozan is handed the keys to the franchise he could take another leap forward. DeRozan nearly doubled his scoring average after increasing the number of shots he took from 6.6 in his rookie season to 14.1 shots per game last season. Vince Carter increased his scoring average by seven points in his sophomore season after taking 20.7 shots per game up from 15.3 in his rookie year. If DeRozan is given over 20 shots per game he could take another leap forward and will be considered amongst the elite shooting guards in the NBA. The Raptors held the 12th fastest pace in the league, but they where dead last on defense which prevented them from gaining more opportunities on the break and in transition. The new coaching system should help players like DeRozan make a few easy buckets.

    Overall DeRozan is a player in his own right and doesn't have to be a Carter clone to be successful, but if he can just turn out to be an improved version of Jamal Crawford by working on his defense and shooting the Toronto Raptors will have their next budding All-star.

    Best Case: Vince Carter, Jason Richardson

    J-Rich was another high-flyer who was a consistent 20 point scorer and ideally, DeRozan would be at his best if he learns to shoot like J-Rich has throughout the years. Richardson isn't the greatest defender today, but in his prime he was a decent defender and a great rebounder.

    Worst Case: Desmond Mason

    Although the above comparison's are enjoyable to read and talk about the reality is that DeRozan is still very raw and relies mainly on his athleticism. Like with any player nothing guarantees that he'll continue to improve, and in that case DeRozan might just continue playing like a 13-18 point scorer which isn't enough to take this team anywhere special.

    One player who was similar to DeRozan was Desmond Mason. Mason was a very good athlete who could drive and score but couldn't do anything else very well. He was solid on the glass and on defense and put together a number of double digit scoring seasons, but only peaked at 17.2 PPG before dropping off in production and eventually retiring in 2010.

    We need DeRozan to be a key player on a winning Raptors squad, and not just a player who will score while the team tanks it for lottery picks.

Jonas Valanciunas

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    Jonas Valanciunas was selected fifth overall by the Toronto Raptors this off-season, and many expect him to become the next great Euro in the NBA. Valanciunas is a long and athletic big man who has a knack for scoring and grabbing rebounds. The 19 year old has shown he could play against top international talent, but he still has lots of room to improve.

    Valanciunas needs to develop a mid range shot and work on his post game. He isn't very strong and will have a hard time making tip-ins and getting easy buckets around the rim if he's playing against the Dwight Howard's of the NBA.

    Coming into the league: The player Valanciunas is most commonly compared to is Andris Biedrins, but some go as far as suggesting he will play like Zydrunas Ilgauskas or Joakim Noah.

    Andris Biedrins was one of the leagues premier "garbage men" before injuries slowed him down the past two seasons. In '08-'09 Biedrins averaged 11.9 points, 11.2 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, and one steal per game. Since Jonas Valanciunas is a much better offensive player and free throw shooter, such an outcome would be great to have for Jonas.

    Comparison: While the Biedrins comparison makes a lot of sense, I think Jonas Valanciunas could also be compared to Pau Gasol.

    Coming into the league Gasol was a lot like Val, and both players share similar skill sets. Pau Gasol was an athletic and versatile power forward who could score easily using an array of pump fakes and post moves, but he could also step out and hit the mid range jumper at times. Valanciunas isn't the fanciest post player around, but he's already starting to develop in that area displaying a potentially dangerous hook shot this summer.

    Though Gasol was better known for his offense when entering the league, Valanciunas also has a knack for scoring in bunches while taking high percentage shots. Valanciunas and Gasol are both good rebounders, and shot blockers.

    While Gasol many criticize Gasol for his defense, the primed Gasol was a good defender who played with grit. On the same token Valanciunas is known for his defensive tenacity, but some also feel he will not become an elite defender.

    Pau Gasol has a much better mid range game than Valanciunas, but Big-V isn't terrible himself, rather he tends to stick close to the basket because that's where he's more comfortable.

    Gasol and Valanciunas could have a lot more in common than some think, and while each player is his own, it feels great to know Valanciunas could lead the new generation of Euro's in the NBA.

    Best Case: Valanciunas' "best case" scenario would be a combination of Andris Biedrins and Pau Gasol. In this situation he'd get the best of both worlds, but we shouldn't get ahead of ourselves and expect this young man to achieve what only a handful of other international players have accomplished.

    Worst Case: Like every young player Valanciunas has his flaws, and though many of them are coachable, they could stop him from flourishing from the start.

    Anthony Randolph is a lanky athletic forward for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Randolph is a player who has a lot of potential, but so far in three seasons in the league he has failed to really achieve anything special.

    Like Valanciunas, Randolph has been very productive for the amount of playing time he has received. The fact that teams would not give him more playing time even though he looks very skilled statistically could also happen with Valanciunas in Toronto, his stats in Europe were mainly impressive because he managed to do it in short periods of time, but maybe there was a reason why he couldn't secure a starting role playing for Lithuania, maybe his stats threw us off some. If Big-V's transition to the NBA isn't very smooth it would be terrible for the Raptors who might just pass up on a center in free agency.

    Valanciunas' is obviously bigger and stronger than Randolph is, but is known to get into foul trouble early, which keeps many talented young players off the court.

    Overall Valanciunas will be good but the "worst case" scenario would be if it takes him a few years before he can really contribute.