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Lithuanian coach not exactly singing Valanciunas’ praises

Aug 7, 2012, 12:14 PM EDT

Lithuania's Jonas Valanciunas (C) vies f Getty Images

The Olympics were going to be the coming out party for soon-to-be Raptor Jonas Valanciunas, the No. 5 pick of the Raptors from the 2011 NBA draft who will join Toronto next season.

Except, it hasn’t been that way at all.

What he’ll be most remembered for from these games is Kobe Bryant elbowing him in the throat on a drive to the lane.

Valanciunas impressed scouts in his European games and previous age-restricted international tournaments — particularly on the defensive end — but in the Olympics he has looked like a project. He’s long, he’s athletic and moves well, but his offensive game has not been pretty.

Even his Lithuanian coach Kestutis Kemzura is saying he needs to work and slow down his game, reports the Sporting News.

“There you go, this is the thing with Jonas,” Kemzura told Sporting News. “Sometimes, he wants to come in and do everything right away. In his head, he is working too fast. He is young, that happens. But he needs to slow down.”

Valanciunas is playing about 11 minutes a game for Lithuania, giving the side about 3 points and 3 rebounds a game, and he has at time struggled with fouls. He has not been impressive, and rushing is a good way to describe how he has looked. He has looked like a guy who has pushed to make plays on offense rather than let the game come to him.

Raptors fans, he’s still a project. Just know that going in. But he can give you some good defense from the start and Dwane Casey is the perfect coach to bring that out of him. It’s going to take a couple years. He still should be a good player, one better than Tristan Thomas if you ask a lot of people (sorry Cavs fans) but it’s still going to take some time.

  1. pl4tinum514 - Aug 7, 2012 at 12:35 PM

    It’s “Tristan Thompson.” At least you know what team he plays for. :)

    Thompson will always be compared to Valanciunas, but it looks like for now at least, Thompson has the upper hand in the discussion. Thompson has had a 27 point NBA game already, and can do alot on the defensive end as well, has a heck of a work ethic, and now has a year of NBA experience under his belt. Give him this season, with an offseason program and a training camp, and we’ll see him much improved with any luck.

  2. leeeroooyjeeenkiiins - Aug 7, 2012 at 12:56 PM

    So what you’re saying is, he’s like almost every really young big man ever and has talent but needs to work on his footwork and technique? Gotcha.

  3. bernie19kosar - Aug 7, 2012 at 12:56 PM

    As a Cavs fan I ask, who is Tristan Thomas?

    • saint1997 - Aug 8, 2012 at 4:59 AM

      That guy you drafted #4 last year to play alongside Kate Erving

  4. rocketsbb - Aug 7, 2012 at 2:50 PM

    Donatas motiejunas look waay better than this guy and I’m not saying that just because he’s on the raptors. This kid couldn’t even take a shot when Kobe drived to the basket. He doesn’t have an nba body

    • rtfinch - Aug 7, 2012 at 3:31 PM

      He caught a knee in the groin and elbow in the throat, I don’t see how that has anything to do with his body, thats just bad luck.

  5. ljl2 - Aug 7, 2012 at 5:32 PM

    so, basically, the scouting report on Thompson and Jonas reads the same…

    -Big
    -Athletic
    -Good on D
    -Rough offensive game

    Oh, except Thompson is already playing in the NBA developing while Jonas has been “eh” in Euro league when faced against older players and downright awful in the Olympics…

    • borderline1988 - Aug 8, 2012 at 11:22 AM

      Well, firstly Valuncianus is a 7 footer, whereas Thompson is 6″9. That makes a huge difference, particularily on the defensive end.

      And you didn’t mention anything about each player’s ceiling.
      The Lithuanian has way more natural coordination, which scouts take to mean that there’s a possibility he can develop a nice offensive game to go along with the defense. The guy can be a promising shooter, and also have a back to the basket game.

      Honestly, from what I saw of Tristan Thompson, he likes to put the ball down once and drive to the basket and dunk. He is not that skilled…not much polish and coordination. He looks like another Tyrus Thomas – an athletic PF who just doesn’t have enough skill and polish to become an elite player. There are a lot of those type of players in the NBA (Hakeem Warrick comes to mind).
      Tristan’s jump shot is terrible. Perhaps he can get better at it, but I don’t think he;ll ever become a dangerous scorer.

      But certainly Thompson’s better today…Valanciunas has looked terrible in the Olympics.

  6. lakerluver - Aug 7, 2012 at 11:21 PM

    Can you say: Darko.

  7. easemypain2012 - Aug 8, 2012 at 10:30 AM

    Darko? Please!
    The words quoted here are hardly a bashing. The comparison to Thompson is interesting, but the comparison unfair. Thompson played less minutes per game than JV did overseas and Thompson is not even at the Olympics . Jv is doing fine. Fans need to be patient.

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