Sep 27, 2012 Center Updates
The Toronto Raptors drafted Jonas Valanciunas with the 5th pick in the 2011 NBA draft and then stashed him away in Lithuania for the 2011-2012 season. Toronto currently has him penciled in as their starting center this season with Andrea Bargnani moving to power forward.
I’ve been reading the hype on Valanciunas, but after watching some of his YouTube clips it seems like he’s being a bit overrated. The first thing that jumps out after watching him is how thin he is for a seven footer. In this clip, Pau Gasol is posting him up and the size difference between the players is very noticeable. Pau Gasol is only listed at 250 pounds and it looks like he’s got Valanciunas by at least 30 pounds, maybe more. Here’s Serge Ibaka posting up on Valanciunas. Ibaka is listed at 235 and still looks to have 15-20 pounds on Valanciunas.
I just don’t think Valanciunas is going to be able to stay on the court as a starter in the NBA until he puts on some muscle. He’s going to continually get into foul trouble trying to guard bigger centers and when he’s on the bench, he isn’t scoring points for your fantasy team.
While his defense and rebounding will be poor, he does have some good offensive ability as seen in this video. After watching that, it strikes me that he’s more cut out to be a stretch four type player rather than a center. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Raptors kept Bargnani at center and moved Valanciunas to power forward.
The real problem with drafting Valanciunas is that most owners want blocks and rebounds from their center position, which aren’t Valanciunas’s strong points. He’s going to be more in the Brook Lopez, Andrea Bargnani type mold, which isn’t a horrible thing if you are building your team and only want an offensive center. At best, I think that Valanciunas is a weak second center in a deep two center league, but probably nothing more than bench depth on a fantasy team until he’s had some time to adjust to the size and speed of the NBA.