The Toronto Raptors have a difficult request for big man Jonas Valanciunas.
They want him to defend like Roy Hibbert.
According to David Aldridge of NBA.com, the Raptors have been working with Valanciunas on “Hibbert” defense, named after the Indiana Pacers’ big man (H/T to Pro Basketball Talk). Aldridge described the defense as “ jumping vertically to challenge shooters instead of reaching and hacking.”
“He’s still learning,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said Saturday. “The main thing with him is he had such a long way to go to learn the NBA, just the nuances of the NBA, the timing, the quickness … he came in blind. We had to tell him who the players were, what their strengths were. And he missed all of training camp last year. That start [last season] was a lot of him not knowing what was going on, and getting his timing back. As the year got better, he got better.”
Valanciunas was one of the big stories of the Las Vegas Summer League and many think the second-year product out of Utena, Lithuania can develop into an all-star.
Valanciunas averaged 8.9 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game in 62 games for the Raptors last season.