Monday, June 20, 2011

Jonas Valanciunas

Jonas Valanciunas is a Euro player who quite possibly could go to the Cavs.  Quite a few sources have linked Valanciunas to the Cavs at #4.  He is a european big man with high upside, two things that quite possibly will appeal to the Cavs.  Chris Grant has said this team could use bigger players.

Strengths:  Size and Athleticism.  Valanciunas has the height and wingspan to be a dominant Center in all facets of the game.  His Wingspan is rumored at 7'6'', but it is likely more around 7'4'', which is still excellent.  He is one of the most fluid athletes of the big men in this draft and runs the floor like a guard.  He is extremely explosive and a great leaper and that, combined with his solid ability at boxing out, will lead to an excellent rebounder (and shot blocker).  He is a good shooter.  He has solid range on his shot and is a good free throw shooter.  He also has the energy of a Varejao or a Joakim Noah (a skill that is rare for some of these Euro bigs).  He has a very nice developing offensive game overall, is tough, and is still only 19.

Weaknesses:  Strength.  Valanciunas is still very soft.  He battles hard down low, but he needs to add serious strength.  In this way, he is your classic "Euro big".  He is also very raw.  While his offensive and defensive game are still developing, he is still a long way away from being completely NBA ready.  He is definitely a project and won't make a significant impact for a couple years.  While unselfish, he is a very poor passer and turns the ball over a lot.  His perimeter game is still weak and anything outside of 12-14 feet is still a huge work in progress.  He is aggressive, which leads to too many fouls.  He also has a 3 million dollar buyout which will dissuade some teams.

Why the Cavs Should/Will draft him:  They need stars.  To win in this league, you need stars.  Outside of Irving and Derrick Williams, he may have the most star potential in this draft (and you could argue, a higher upside than D-Will).  They have drafted project international players before with Grant in the front office (Eyenga) and they are looking for a big man.

Why the Cavs Shouldn't/Won't draft him:  It depends on how much of a say Gilbert wants to have and how much he wants to talk in Chris Grant's ear.  I don't think Gilbert as a gm would pick Jonas.  He comes with a 3 million dollar buyout and he will not help the Cavs win now.  While Gilbert I believe wants to build a dynasty, I think he is still more impatient than Grant (owners often are).  He want to keep his promise about winning a championship too.

Best Case/Worst Case Scenarios:  Pau Gasol/Andris Biedrins.

What I Think:  I don't think he will be Pau Gasol.  If he can get stronger and develop a good post game, it is certainly possible, however I am realistic.  He has a low floor in Biedrins, but he would have to show almost no development to be like Biedrins.   I think he could come into the league and be a 7/7 guy his first year to begin with.  I think the best comparison would be a shorter, more athletic Zydrunas Ilgauskas.  Its not just because they are from Lithuania, Z was also a lanky big man with great athleticism coming out.  He had a better wingspan, but he also had a tick less athleticism and he lost a lot of it with those foot injuries.  He still had the ability to come back and in his prime, was a 16/8 player with 2 blocks a game.  I believe Valanciunas will put up similar, but slightly better numbers.  

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