Title: Raptors’ Jonas Valanciunas still adjusting to green light shooting threes
Date: January 30, 2018
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about the improvements keeping Jonas Valanciunas on the floor late and his adjustment to having the green light, even in those clutch situations.
You could see the uncertainty on Jonas Valanciunas’ face in real-time. As the Toronto Raptors came down the floor to set up a high-leverage possession, down three to the Utah Jazz with under a minute to go, Valanciunas looked to the bench and head coach Dwane Casey. A play had been called and, because it was an unlikely one, Valanciunas needed to confirm with a finger point: Was Casey really asking him to space out to the corner?
With Rudy Gobert making life tough for Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, Casey was hoping to either pull Gobert away from the paint or force Utah to concede an open shooter as a trade-off. Gobert stayed at home, the team’s usual 2-1 pick-and-roll produced no edge, and DeMar DeRozan found Valanciunas in the corner. The 7-footer hesitated, despite being 2-of-2 from beyond the arc on the night. The Jazz were given time to recover, and the Raptors wound up getting a tough Kyle Lowry fadeaway off of a Valanciunas dribble hand-off late in the clock, a shot that missed.
It sounds funny, but the Raptors were a little upset that Valanciunas — a 7-footer who has now made 12 threes over 407 career games — didn’t pull the trigger.