Eurobasket 2013: Toronto Raptors Have to Like Jonas Valanciunas Staying Fresh

By Cody Williams
Valanciunas Raptors Eurobasket
John E. Sokolowski – USA Today Sports Images

In March of the 2012-2013 NBA season, Toronto Raptors rookie center Jonas Valanciunas saw his minutes increase, an opportunity that he shined in. In 15 games while playing 27.1 minutes per game, he averaged 11.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game on 62 percent shooting. In seven games in April, Valanciunas played 31.6 minutes per game and continued his productivity as he averaged 14.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game on 55.8 percent shooting.

Valanciunas’ star continued to rise at the Las Vegas Summer League as he appeared like he was far too talented to be playing with unproven rookies and guys trying to make it into the league. In four games he averaged 18.8 points, 10 rebounds and 0.8 blocks in just 29.3 minutes per game while shooting an impressive 56.1 percent from the floor.

After the productivity he showed at the end of the NBA season and at Summer League, it might seem a bit puzzling at how little he’s seeing the floor for Lithuania at Eurobasket 2013. Through four games in the tournament he is seeing the floor for just 22.5 minutes per game, though he has averaged a solid nine points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game while also shooting 66.7 percent from the floor.

Given the talent Valanciunas has shown leading up to Eurobasket and even while on the floor in the tournament, it would seem like he should be on the floor for nearly 30 minutes per game. However, it wouldn’t be surprising to find out that he wants his minutes limited to stay fresh for his second season in the NBA.

Valanciunas is set to be an integral part of the Raptors in this season and moving forward. With Masai Ujiri now running things in the front office, Valanciunas seems like one of the few players whose job is likely safe for the foreseeable future. Because of that, he may want to be fresh so he can be at his best when the NBA season starts.

Ultimately, the NBA is probably the bigger worry for Valanciunas at this point. Lithuania is still 3-1 in the tournament with him playing limited minutes, so it’s not a detriment to his team for him to keep his minutes limited. He’s doing what’s best for the Raptors, which Toronto has to be pleased about.

Cody Williams is a Senior Writer with Rant Sports. Follow Cody on Twitter @TheSizzle20, add him on Google and like his Facebook page.

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