January 18, 2012
NBA GMs show Valancuinas some love
By RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency
BOSTON - Some NBA general managers appear to be getting a little carried away or confused about the current abilities of Raptors draft pick Jonas Valanciunas.
In an annual poll, Valanciunas, the fifth-overall selection of the 2011 draft, was named the top international player not currently toiling in the NBA.
There is no question that Valanciunas is an extremely bright prospect, but there is no chance he currently is the best player in Europe. Player with the highest ceiling? Sure, but that’s not the same thing.
Still, Valanciunas also fared well in more applicable parts of the survey.
He finished in a tie for second behind Kyrie Irving in the “which rookie will be the best player in five years” category and received mention in the “sleeper” section as well.
Raptors head coach Dwane Casey was happy to see the results, but as has been the case whenever Valanciunas’ name has been mentioned in his presence, again preached patience with the youngster.
“As a coach, I want to make sure that we’re cautious that we’re not putting the world on his shoulders, it’s not fair to him. It takes bigs more time to get used to the NBA,” Casey said.
“Even though he’s playing in a man’s league over there in Europe, it’s a little bit different. There’s still a lot to learn.”
Still, Casey clearly is excited at the prospect of adding Valanciunas to his lineup when the Lithuanian comes across the Atlantic next season.
“He’s going to have some growing pains but I like what he represents. He’s going to be something we need. Size, speed and quickness in the paint and a quick motor.”