Jonas Valančiūnas

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Jonas Valančiūnas
Jonas Valanciunas (Toronto at Washington 04.26.15).jpg
Valančiūnas going for a dunk in 2015
No. 17 – Toronto Raptors
Position Center
League NBA
Personal information
Born (1992-05-06) 6 May 1992 (age 24)
Utena, Lithuania
Nationality Lithuanian
Listed height 7 ft 0 in (2.13 m)
Listed weight 255 lb (116 kg)
Career information
NBA draft 2011 / Round: 1 / Pick: 5th overall
Selected by the Toronto Raptors
Playing career 2008–present
Career history
2008–2010 Perlas Vilnius
2010–2012 Lietuvos rytas Vilnius
2012–present Toronto Raptors
Career highlights and awards
Stats at NBA.com
Stats at Basketball-Reference.com

Jonas Valančiūnas (Lithuanian pronunciation: ​[ˈjoːnɐs vɐɫɐnʲˈt͡ʃûːnɐs]; born 6 May 1992) is a Lithuanian professional basketball player for the Toronto Raptors of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He has been a member of the Lithuania men's national basketball team since age 19. Valančiūnas was selected by the Raptors with the fifth overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft. Valančiūnas has also appeared in the documentary The Other Dream Team.

Professional career[edit]

Lithuanian beginnings[edit]

Valančiūnas started playing professionally for Perlas in 2008. During the 2008–09 season the team played in the Lithuanian National Basketball League (NKL), Lithuania's second strongest league, but moved up to the Lithuanian Basketball League (LKL) the following season. In January 2009 Valančiūnas signed a long-term contract with Lithuanian powerhouse Lietuvos Rytas, but, as Perlas was Lietuvos Rytas' daughter club, he didn't move to Lietuvos Rytas instantly and stayed in Perlas for the first half of the 2009–10 season.[1]

On 17 January 2010, Valančiūnas finally moved to Lietuvos Rytas. A month after that Lietuvos Rytas won the 2010 edition of Lithuanian Basketball Federation (LKF) Cup. While playing there, Valančiūnas has played in the LKL Finals three times, in 2010, 2011 and 2012. The team won the 2010 series against Žalgiris 4–3, but lost to the same team the following year 1–4 and 0-3 in 2012.

Valančiūnas became February's MVP in the VTB United League in 2012.[2] Two months later he won the Eurocup Rising Star award and was named in the All-Eurocup squad. He averaged 10.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg and 1.6 bpg while shooting 63.4% from the field, leading Lietuvos Rytas to third place.

Valančiūnas participated in three LKL All-Star Games, the 2010, 2011 and 2012 LKL All-Star Games. During the 2011 All-Star Game Valančiūnas scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, helping the "Lithuanians" win the game. He was named as the 2011 LKL All-Star Game MVP. During the 2012 game he led his team to victory, scoring 25 points including one three-pointer, grabbing 13 rebounds and dishing out 6 assists. He won the MVP award once again.[3]

Valančiūnas was named Lithuania Basketball Player of the Year three times, on 27 December 2011,[4] on 11 December 2012[5] and on 17 December 2014.[6] He was also twice named the FIBA European Young Player of the Year, on 13 February 2012 [7] and on 6 February 2013.[8]

NBA[edit]

2012–13 season[edit]

Valančiūnas blocks Greg Monroe

Valančiūnas was considered as a top prospect at the 2011 NBA draft, held on 23 June 2011, and was drafted fifth overall by the Toronto Raptors. He signed with the Raptors on 18 July 2012[9] and made his NBA debut on 31 October 2012, during a game against the Indiana Pacers. He recorded 12 points and 10 rebounds in 23 minutes of action as a starter, becoming the first Raptors rookie since Damon Stoudamire (1995) to record a double-double in his first game.[10] On April 5, 2013, Valančiūnas was named Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for games played in March. He ranked first among Eastern Conference rookies in rebounds (7.3 rpg), blocks (1.07 bpg), and field goal percentage (.620). He also ranked second in free throw percentage (.822) and fourth in scoring (11.4 ppg), reaching double figures in points in 11 of his last 12 games (March 6-31).[11]

2013–14 season[edit]

On 22 July 2013, Valančiūnas was named MVP of the Las Vegas Summer League after averaging 19 points and 10 rebounds in four games.[12][13]

On 27 December 2013, Valančiūnas recorded a then career-high 18 rebounds in a 95–83 win over the New York Knicks.[14] On 9 April 2014, he scored a then career-high 26 points in a 125–114 win over the Philadelphia 76ers.[15] Two days later, he recorded a career-high 21 rebounds in a 108–100 loss to the New York Knicks.[16] The Raptors finished as the third seed in the East Conference in 2013–14, and faced the sixth-seeded Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the playoffs. In Game 1 of the series, Valančiūnas recorded 17 points and 18 rebounds, surpassing Keon Clark's franchise record for most rebounds in a single playoff game. Valančiūnas also became the second Raptor ever to record a double-double in his playoff debut; the first was Tracy McGrady.[17] The Raptors went on to lose the series 4–3.

2014–15 season[edit]

On 31 January 2015, Valančiūnas scored a career-high 31 points in a 114–111 loss to the Detroit Pistons.[18] Valančiūnas finished the 2014–15 season with a back-to-the-basket shot percentage of 51.3%, good for second in the NBA behind fellow Lithuanian Donatas Motiejūnas of the Houston Rockets, who was attacking with 53.4% this way.[19] Furthermore, Valančiūnas was ranked second in FG% category during the 2014–15 season.[20]

2015–16 season[edit]

On 20 August 2015, Valančiūnas signed a four-year, $64 million contract extension with the Raptors.[21][22] Prior to the start of the 2015–16 season, Valančiūnas was named the 57th (out of 400) best player in the league by ESPN, jumping 34 positions from the previous season when he was ranked 91st.[23] On 22 November 2015, he was ruled out for six weeks with a fracture in his left hand.[24] He returned to action on 28 December against the Chicago Bulls after missing 17 games with the injury.[25] On 10 March 2016, in a win over the Atlanta Hawks, he recorded 10 points and 10 rebounds, his career-high 16th straight game scoring in double figures and his 16th double-double of the season.[26] His double figure record ended at 17 games after re-injuring his left hand on 14 March against the Chicago Bulls, leaving the game with 2:25 remaining in the first quarter and did not return.[27]

On 30 March 2016, Valančiūnas recorded 19 points and 9 rebounds in a 105–97 win over the Atlanta Hawks, helping the Raptors record a 50-win season for the first time in franchise history.[28] On 1 April, he recorded 11 points, 14 rebounds and a career-best seven blocks in a 99–95 win over the Memphis Grizzlies.[29] The Raptors finished the regular season as the second seed in the East with a 56–26 record.

In Game 1 of the Raptors' first round playoff series against the seventh-seeded Indiana Pacers, Valančiūnas set a franchise playoff record with 19 rebounds, surpassing his own mark set in 2014.[30] In Game 2 of the series, Valančiūnas recorded a playoff career-high 23 points and 15 rebounds in a 98–87 win, tying the series a 1–1.[31] The Raptors went on to win the series 4–3. In the second round, the Raptors faced the Miami Heat, but in Game 3 of the series, Valančiūnas went down with a sprained right ankle. He subsequently missed eight straight games, returning to action in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers.[32] The Raptors went on to lose to the Cavaliers in Game 6, as the Raptors' deepest playoff run in franchise history came to an end with a 4–2 defeat.[33]

National team career[edit]

Valančiūnas with Lithuania U-19 team

Valančiūnas made his debut for the junior national team of Lithuania in the 2008 FIBA Europe Under-16 Championship in Italy. He dominated throughout the tournament, averaging 14.3 points, 11.1 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in 23.5 minutes of action. His team went on to win the gold medal and he was chosen as the MVP.[34]

In the summer of 2009, Valančiūnas participated in the European Under-18 All-Star Game during EuroBasket 2009 in Poland. He dominated the game as he scored 18 points, grabbed 19 rebounds, blocked three shots and helped the "Blue Team" beat the "White Team" 77:75.[35] Valančiūnas was later named the MVP of the All-Star game.[citation needed]

One year later, Valančiūnas led Lithuania to another gold medal. Lithuania dominated in the 2010 FIBA Europe Under-18 Championship held in Lithuania. Valančiūnas averaged 19.4 points, 13.4 rebounds and 2.7 blocks, and was voted as the MVP.[36]

Valančiūnas vs Kosta Koufos

Valančiūnas was also a member of the Lithuanian Under-19 basketball team, which competed in the 2011 FIBA Under-19 World Championship in Latvia. He led his team to capture the gold medal, averaging 23.0 points, 13.9 rebounds and 3.2 blocks in 31 minutes of game action. He was later named the tournament MVP. Valančiūnas scored 36 points in the gold medal game against Serbia, which was the highest points scored in a game by any player in the tournament.[37] To this date he is the only player to achieve an MVP and Gold Medal in all of his FIBA U-tournaments.[citation needed]

Valančiūnas was on the senior men's Lithuanian national basketball team roster for EuroBasket 2011, which took place in Lithuania. Valančiūnas debuted with Lithuania's senior men's national basketball team on 6 August 2011. In his debut match against Czech Republic, he scored 26 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.[38] After a strong performance in friendly pre-EuroBasket'11 matches, Valančiūnas was leading the Lithuanian national team with 12.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.[39] Although Valančiūnas failed to be any kind of a leader in the first 4 games of EuroBasket 2011 (among them missing the game against Turkey), he then became one of the key players, averaging 8.4 points and 4.1 rebounds in just 15.7 minutes of game action.[40] He also helped Lithuania to claim the 5th spot, which guaranteed qualification for the 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament.[citation needed] To this day, he is the all-time youngest Lithuanian to represent the primary national team at the major tournament.[41]

In 2013, Valančiūnas won a silver medal at the EuroBasket tournament.

In 2014 FIBA World Cup, Valančiūnas led the Lithuanian squad, which finished 4th in the rankings.

Valančiūnas also was one of the tournament's best players in EuroBasket 2015 and was chosen to the All-Tournament Team after averaging 16 points and 8.4 rebounds per game, along with his teammate Jonas Mačiulis.[42] The team won their second consecutive European championship silver medals back then.

Career statistics[edit]

Legend
  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game
 FG%  Field-goal percentage  3P%  3-point field-goal percentage  FT%  Free-throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game  PIR  Performance Index Rating
 Bold  Career high

Note: The Euroleague is not the only competition in which the player participated for the team during the season. He also played in domestic competition, and regional competition if applicable.

NBA[edit]

Regular season[edit]

Year Team GP GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG PPG
2012–13 Toronto 62 57 23.9 .557 .000 .789 6.0 .7 .3 1.3 8.9
2013–14 Toronto 81 81 28.2 .531 .000 .762 8.8 .7 .3 .9 11.3
2014–15 Toronto 80 80 26.2 .572 .000 .786 8.7 .5 .4 1.2 12.0
2015–16 Toronto 60 59 26.0 .565 .000 .761 9.1 .7 .4 1.3 12.8
Career 283 277 26.2 .556 .000 .774 8.2 .6 .4 1.1 11.3

Playoffs[edit]

Year Team GP GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG PPG
2014 Toronto 7 7 28.6 .633 .000 .636 9.7 .3 .0 1.0 10.9
2015 Toronto 4 4 26.5 .500 .000 .875 9.3 .5 .5 .3 11.3
2016 Toronto 12 10 26.8 .567 .000 .744 10.8 .9 .8 1.2 13.8
Career 23 21 27.3 .570 .000 .725 10.2 .7 .5 1.0 12.4

Euroleague[edit]

Year Team GP GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG PPG PIR
2010–11 Lietuvos Rytas 15 8 15.4 .708 .000 .885 5.8 .2 .2 .7 7.7 9.7
Career 15 8 15.4 .708 .000 .885 5.8 .2 .2 .7 7.7 9.7

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jonas Valančiūnas signed contract with Lietuvos Rytas (Lithuanian)
  2. ^ Valančiūnas became the VTB United League player of the month (English)
  3. ^ Valančiūnas named LKL All-Star Game MVP once again (Lithuanian)
  4. ^ Jonas Valančiūnas named Lithuania Player Of The Year (Lithuanian)
  5. ^ 23 thousands of fans decided: Valančiūnas is the best Lithuania basketball player in 2012 (Lithuanian)
  6. ^ Išrinkti geriausi 2014 metų krepšininkai – Jonas Valančiūnas ir Gintarė Petronytė (Lithuanian)
  7. ^ Jonas Valančiūnas named FIBA European Young Player of the Year (English)
  8. ^ Jonas Valančiūnas named FIBA European Young Player of the Year (English)
  9. ^ Raptors Sign Centre Jonas Valanciunas
  10. ^ Notebook: Pacers 90, Raptors 88
  11. ^ Valanciunas, Lillard nab monthly rookie honors
  12. ^ Jonas Valanciunas is the 2013 Las Vegas Summer League MVP
  13. ^ Jonas Valanciunas named 2013 Las Vegas Summer League MVP
  14. ^ Notebook: Raptors 95, Knicks 83
  15. ^ Jonas Valanciunas guides Toronto Raptors to win over lowly Philadelphia 76ers
  16. ^ Raptors secure division despite loss to Knicks
  17. ^ Notebook: Nets 94, Raptors 87
  18. ^ Jennings helps Pistons knock off Raptors 114-111
  19. ^ Paaiškėjo statistinis rodiklis, pagal kurį abu lietuviai NBA neturėjo lygių (Lithuanian)
  20. ^ "NBA Statistics - 2015". ESPN.com. Retrieved 17 October 2015. 
  21. ^ "Raptors Sign Valanciunas To Contract Extension". NBA.com. 20 August 2015. Retrieved 20 August 2015. 
  22. ^ "Raptors sign Jonas Valanciunas to contract extension". InsideHoops.com. 20 August 2015. Retrieved 20 August 2015. 
  23. ^ "#NBArank: Nos. 51-60". ESPN.com. 13 October 2015. Retrieved 13 October 2015. 
  24. ^ Sources: Raptors C Jonas Valanciunas opts for rehab instead of hand surgery
  25. ^ Snell, Gasol spark Bulls to 104-97 win over the Raptors
  26. ^ DeMar DeRozan has 30 points and Raptors top Hawks 104-96
  27. ^ Bulls win ninth straight against Raptors, 109-107
  28. ^ "Raptors beat Hawks 105-97 to notch first 50-win season". NBA.com. 30 March 2016. Retrieved 31 March 2016. 
  29. ^ "DeRozan, Lowry lead Raptors past Grizzlies 99-95". NBA.com. 1 April 2016. Retrieved 1 April 2016. 
  30. ^ "George scores 33 as Pacers beat Raptors 100-90 in Game 1". NBA.com. 16 April 2016. Retrieved 16 April 2016. 
  31. ^ "Valanciunas has 23 points, Raptors beat Pacers 98-87". NBA.com. 18 April 2016. Retrieved 18 April 2016. 
  32. ^ "LeBron, Love power Cavaliers to 116-78 romp over Raptors". NBA.com. 25 May 2016. Retrieved 25 May 2016. 
  33. ^ "James scores 33, Cavaliers reach second straight NBA Finals". NBA.com. 27 May 2016. Retrieved 27 May 2016. 
  34. ^ Valančiūnas named Europe U-16 Championship MVP (Lithuanian)
  35. ^ Valančiūnas named European Under-18 All-Star Game MVP (English)
  36. ^ Valančiūnas named Europe U-18 Championship MVP (Lithuanian)
  37. ^ Valančiūnas named World U-19 Championship MVP (English)
  38. ^ Jonas Valančiūnas powerfully debuted in Lithuania national men's basketball team (Lithuanian)
  39. ^ Valančiūnas – rezultatyviausias rinktinės žaidėjas pasiruošimo cikle (Lithuanian)
  40. ^ Jonas Valanciunas profile (English)
  41. ^ Urbonas, Donatas. "Domantą Sabonį nuo istorinio įrašo Lietuvos krepšinyje skyrė nenumatytos aplinkybės". 24sek.lt. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  42. ^ "Gasol Headlines All-Star Five Presented By Tissot". EuroBasket2015.org. Retrieved 21 September 2015. 

External links[edit]