Title: Jonas Valanciunas Is Stepping Up Big Against the Wizards
Date: April 26, 2018
Original Source: Vice
Synopsis: In my latest for Vice, I wrote about Jonas Valanciunas giving the Raptors a necessary boost in Game 5 against the Wizards.
It’s not often that calling on a player with the best net rating on a team in a big moment appears to be a calculated risk. Net rating is only one lens, of course, but it’s an important one in the postseason, when the only thing that matters is outscoring an opponent. The context within is important. At the end of the day, or game, or series, it comes down to winning, and the Toronto Raptors have been beating the Washington Wizards when Jonas Valanciunas is on the floor.
And still, head coach Dwane Casey calling on Valanciunas in the fourth quarter of a tight Game 5 on Wednesday was taken by some as a gamble.
In large part, that’s because the conversation around Valanciunas has focused for some time now on what he can’t do. Namely, he can’t defend the pick-and-roll. Or, rather, he can’t defend the pick-and-roll in the style many teams have become accustomed to and in the style the Raptors hoped he could play when he first entered the league. He is not exceptionally fleet of foot, and he was below average for his position defending when switched onto a guard, certain death against John Wall or Bradley Beal. Pick-and-pop bigs are a problem, too.