Checking in on former Raptor Jonas Valanciunas
As the Toronto Raptors head into their second playoffs with Marc Gasol manning the paint, it's worth looking back at the trade that brought him to Toronto.
Just days before the trade deadline the Raptors sent Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright, CJ Miles, and a 2024 second-round pick to the Memphis Grizzlies for the then-34-year-old Gasol.
While Gasol has seen his scoring numbers dip a little in Toronto, his impact as a floor spacer and more importantly as a defensive presence have been invaluable to the Raptors.
In Memphis, Valanciunas has come of age, entering his prime with a young team that is looking to make the playoffs for the first time since 2017.
Here's what Sports Illustrated's Grizzlies reporter Anthony Sain had to say about Valanciunas:
"We love JV here," Sain said. "JV is a super fun guy. I was hosting a radio show here in Memphis and we talked about how much, how good he is in the locker room, how he's a great interview. He's a real silly guy, like he's always preparing himself to crack a joke and we just know JV is gonna say something wild when he's in the locker room. On the court, he's just a phenomenal guy. He can give you buckets into paint, he can get your rebounds. He's kind of the opposite of Marc if you kind of want to take a look at it. They're almost polar opposites, where JV likes to operate in the middle, he likes to rebound, he's not that good of a post defender like Marc is, he holds his own, but he's not as solid across the board defensively as Mark is. But we like JV here.
Valanciunas is averaging nearly 15 points and a career-high 11.2 rebounds per game this season.