The Toronto Raptors enjoyed a very successful season, winning the Atlantic Division and returning to the postseason. Although they are powered by their back court of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, the improving play of center Jonas Valančiūnas could be a reason they continue to climb up the ladder in the Eastern Conference.
Valančiūnas should benefit from his time playing with Lithuania in the FIBA World, which got underway this morning, according to John Zitzler of Basketball Insiders.
While the Raptors may have been disappointed with their first-round exit, they had to be pleased with the play of Valanciunas.
Prior to start of next season, Valanciunas will have the chance to build on his impressive playoff performance as he will play for Lithuania’s national team during the FIBA World Cup. In the past, his role with his national team has been relatively small, but he figures to be a much bigger contributor this time around. Both his playoff experience and his FIBA World Cup experience should prove beneficial when next season begins. He showed nice progress from year one to year two; don’t be surprised to see him make an even bigger leap in his third season as a pro.
Last season, Valančiūnas averaged 11.3 points, 8.8 rebounds, 0.9 blocks and 0.7 assists per game while shooting 53.1% from the field and 76.2% from the free throw line. Over the course of his two-year career, the fifth-overall pick in the first of the 2011 NBA Draft, has put up 10.3 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.0 blocks and 0.7 assists per game while shooting 54.0% from the floor and 77.3% from the charity stripe.
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