The Toronto Raptors have lost rookie Jonas Valanciunas for four-to-six weeks with a hand injury.
The 6-foot-11 center suffered the injury in an awkward fall while attempting to reach for a loose ball in the team’s 93-90 victory over the Utah Jazz. After seeing a hand specialist it was determined no surgery would be required.
The injuries continue to pile up for Toronto with the team already being without Andrea Bargnani and Kyle Lowry. Lowry is getting closer to returning however Bargnani is nowhere in the neighborhood of suiting up anytime in the near future.
Valanciunas has had a successful start to his NBA career through the first two months of the season. The Raptors will miss his hardworking determination and enthusiasm on both ends of the floor. The center has started all 28 games prior to the injury, averaging 7.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.1 blocks, 1.1 assists while shooting 52.4% from the floor and 70.3% from the foul line.
He’s recorded three double-doubles on the season, including 12 points and 10 rebounds in his first NBA game.
It hasn’t been a perfect start for Valanciunas as like most rookie big men he’s struggled to stay out of foul trouble. He has 11 games of four or more fouls this season, and combined with the strong play from Ed Davis and Amir Johnson in the post, is only averaging 22.4 minutes.
Still, there are plenty of flashes of what the fourth overall pick in 2011 is capable of when he is able to stay on the court. In a 111-106 overtime loss to the San Antonio Spurs, Valanciunas recorded 22 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three blocks going head-to-head against Tim Duncan.
The injury is a setback for the 20-year old and hopefully he is able to heal in time for the Rookie/Sophomore Challenge during All-Star Weekend. With the play of fellow rookie teammate Terrence Ross, the Raptors deserve to have two players in the contest.