Jonas Valanciunas
Jonas Valanciunas
29-Year-Old CenterC
New Orleans Pelicans
2021 Fantasy Outlook
Last season was Valanciunas' best. The center saw 28.3 minutes per game and averaged 17.1 points, 12.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.5 combined blocks-plus-steals with the Grizzlies. He also shot a career-high 59.2 percent from the field. That led to him ranking 41st in fantasy on a per-game basis -- his third season in a row improving his value. Valanciunas will be on a different team in 2021-22, however, as he was dealt from Memphis to New Orleans, where he'll now share a frontcourt with emerging star Zion Williamson. It would be surprising for Valanciunas to be given fewer minutes in his new environment, though it's possible his numbers take a slight dip while playing next to the high-usage tandem of Williamson and Brandon Ingram. It's also possible we see Valanciunas shoot more threes to help space the floor for Williamson, who does all of his damage at the rim. In theory, Valanciunas can space the floor, but he's never been a high-volume outside shooter, so it will be interesting to see if that part of his game is emphasized. Over the past four seasons, Valanciunas is a combined 97-of-270 (35.9 percent) from beyond the arc. Playing alongside Williamson could lead to more competition for rebounds, but Valanciunas should still be a walking 15-and-10, making him a high-floor option in the early-middle rounds of most fantasy drafts. Read Past Outlooks
$Signed a three-year, $45 million contract with the Grizzlies in July of 2019. Traded to the Pelicans in August of 2021.
Personal Bio

Valanciunas was born in 1992 in Utena, Lithuania. In June 2008, he participated in the NBA and FIBA Basketball Without Borders Europe camp in Istanbul, Turkey. As a member of the Raptors, Valanciunas sponsored a ticket program for youth in the Lithuanian/Canadian community. He also surprised youth basketball players at clinics around Toronto. Since the age of 19, he's been a member of the Lithuania men's national basketball team. Valanciunas won two EuroBasket silver medals in 2013 and 2015, earning All-Tournament honors in 2015. Fans can learn more about JV on Twitter (@JValanciunas) and Instagram (@jvalanciunas).

College/International Summary

Valanciunas helped lead Lietuvos Rytas to the Lithuanian Basketball Federation (LKF) Finals for three straight seasons from 2009-12. The first year of that stretch brought the best results, as he helped Lietuvos Rytas win the LKF title in 2009-10. Valanciunas was named to the All-Eurocup first team in 2011-12 and was awarded the Eurocup Rising Star Trophy, as well. Valanciunas averaged 14.2 points and 7.4 rebounds for Lietuvos Rytas in the 2011-12 season. In the 2011-12 VTB United League, Valanciunas led the league in blocks per game (1.7) as part of Lietuvos Rytas. He also finished fifth in the VTB in rebounds per game (7.3). Valanciunas entered the 2011 NBA Draft and was selected with the No. 5 overall pick by the Raptors. He opted to again play for Lietuvos Rytas in Lithuania before joining the Raptors, starting with the 2012 NBA Summer League.

Traded to Pelicans
CNew Orleans Pelicans
July 26, 2021
Valanciunas was traded to the Pelicans on Monday as part of a deal that brings Eric Bledsoe and Steven Adams to Memphis, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports.
ANALYSIS
The two teams will swap starting centers, but the Pelicans will pay a price for Memphis taking on a pair of less-than-desirable salary figures. New Orleans will send the No. 10 and No. 40 picks in Thursday's draft -- as well as a top-10-protected 2022 first-rounder (via the Lakers) -- to Memphis, which will send back the No. 17 and No. 51 picks in 2021. The trade will likely install Valanciunas as the Pelicans' top center alongside Zion Williamson, who struggled to fit in next to a non-spacer in Adams. Valanciunas is coming off of a career year in 2020-21, posting career highs in scoring (17.1 PPG) and rebounding (12.5 RPG) while adding 1.8 assists and 0.9 blocks per contest. Valanciunas finished the season 21-of-57 (36.8 percent) from three-point range, and there's a good chance he'll be asked to do more floor spacing in New Orleans -- especially if Williamson's jumper does not improve this offseason.
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Past Season Summaries
2020

Valanciunas started in every one of his 62 regular-season appearances for the Grizzlies, as well as in all seven of the team's playoff contests. The Lithuanian big man was an impact performer on both ends of the court and finished the season with 49 double-doubles, tied for third in The Association with Rudy Gobert and only behind Russell Westbrook (59) and Nikola Jokic (60). Valanciunas delivered his best game of the season on April 11 against the Indiana Pacers, when he finished with a season-high 34 points while also pulling down a regular-season best 22 rebounds. That was one of two games with at least 30 points for Valanciunas, and it was also one of his five performances with at least 20 boards including the playoffs. Other season-high marks for Valanciunas included five assists (three times), two steals (six times) and five blocks. All things considered, Valanciunas averaged 17.1 points, a career-best 12.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 0.9 blocks and 0.6 steals per game during the regular season. He also appeared in all seven games for Memphis during the playoffs, recording five double-doubles in that span. His best postseason performance came on May 19 against the San Antonio Spurs, when he finished with 23 points and 23 rebounds across 38 minutes. Valanciunas averaged 15.3 points, 12.0 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 0.9 blocks and 0.4 steals across 32.9 minutes per game during the playoffs.

2019

The 2019-20 campaign marked Valanciunas' first full campaign with the Grizzlies, as he spent the second half of the 2018-19 campaign with the team. The 27-year-old saw action in 70 games, averaging 14.9 points, a career-high 11.3 rebounds, a career-high 1.9 assists and 1.1 blocks across 26.4 minutes. He also shot a career-high 58.5 percent from the field, hit a career-high 0.5 threes per game at 35.2 percent and converted 74.0 percent of his free throws. In terms of NBA ranks, the center was fifth in total rebounds (788), seventh in field-goal percentage, 18th in PER (22.2) and 20th in win shares (7.0). On Dec. 4, in a seven-point win over the Bulls, Valanciunas recorded a season-high 32 points in addition to 13 rebounds, three steals, one assist and one block in 29 minutes. On Feb. 28 against the Kings, Valanciunas set a new career high with 25 rebounds (six offensive) in addition to 13 points and two blocks in 32 minutes. On Aug. 13 in a win over the Bucks during seeding play in the Orlando bubble, Valanciunas dished a career-high 12 assists in addition to 26 points and 19 rebounds in 33 minutes. That was his lone triple-double of the campaign, though the big man did have 39 double-doubles. He had at least 15 rebounds in 11 of those double-doubles. Valanciunas also had six performances with at four blocks -- his season high.

2018

In his seventh year, Valanciunas would continue to split center duties with Serge Ibaka. Even with less minutes, he produced excellent numbers over the first month by recording 13.9 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 1.1 BPG, 56.9 FG percentage, 80.0 FT percentage. The end of that run - on Nov. 21 - would feature the Lithuanian giant punishing the Hawks with 24 points and 13 rebounds. He dislocated his left thumb during a game on Dec. 12 and the subsequent surgery would keep him out for nearly two months. As a return was approaching, the career Raptor was moved to Memphis on Deadline Day with Marc Gasol going the other way. He dominated in his Grizzlies debut with 23 points and 10 boards. The stats didn't stop for Valanciunas, as the 20.9 PPG, 11.2 RPG, 2.1 APG, and 1.8 BPG across 16 games would prove. His Mar. 27 display proved to be notable as he dropped 34 to go along with 20 rebounds and a season-high five assists. And in 19 contests with Memphis, he'd go on to post 11 double-doubles. Valanciunas's season would end with five games remaining after hurting his ankle versus the Clippers.

2017

Valanciunas started all 77 games he appeared in during the 2017-18 campaign -- his age 25 season. He set a career high in assists per game (1.1) while also averaging 12.7 points and 8.6 rebounds across 22.4 minutes. Valanciunas also took more threes, going 30-of-74 (40.5 percent) from downtown. He ranked eighth in field-goal percentage (56.8) and sixth in total rebound percentage (21.4). Valanciunas' best performance of the season occurred Jan. 26 during a four-point loss to the Jazz. In 27 minutes, he posted 28 points, 14 rebounds (five offensive), four blocks, two assists and a steal. It was one of his 26 double-doubles. Valanciunas' best stretch of the season occurred during a six-game span from March 7-16. He averaged 18.0 points on 11.7 shots plus 12.3 rebounds (4.2 offensive), 2.0 assists and 1.7 steals over 26.4 minutes. Toronto finished the season 59-23, beating the Wizards in Round 1 before losing to the Cavaliers in Round 2. Across 10 playoff games, Valanciunas averaged 14.6 points, 10.5 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and 1.2 assists in 24.4 minutes of run.

2016

Valanciunas started all 80 games he appeared in during the 2016-17 campaign -- the third time in his five-year career that he reached that mark. He saw 25.8 minutes per game and averaged career marks in per-game rebounds (9.5) and free-throw percentage (81.1). Valanciunas ranked top 10 in the NBA in field-goal percentage (55.7) and total rebound percentage (20.8). He also set new single-game career highs in points (32) and rebounds (23). His 32-point effort in the 18-point win over the Pistons came on Opening Night, and it was arguably his best game of the campaign. He shot 10-of-15 from the field and 12-of-14 from the charity stripe while also collecting 11 rebounds (six offensive) and one assist. It was one of Valanciunas' 29 double-doubles. The Raptors finished the season 51-32, defeating the Bucks in Round 1 before falling to the Cavaliers in Round 2. Across 10 playoff appearances, Valanciunas averaged 11.2 points and 6.7 rebounds in 22.6 minutes. His best postseason performance came in a Game 2 loss to the Cavaliers. Valanciunas posted 23 points and five rebounds in 20 minutes.

2015

A fractured left hand cost Valanciunas 22 games during the 2015-16 season. He didn't play from Nov. 22 through Dec. 26, and he also missed five games after that, mostly in mid-March. However, he still managed a strong campaign, setting career highs in points (12.8) and rebounds (9.1) per game while averaging 26.0 minutes of run. He also ranked sixth in the league in field-goal percentage (56.5), eighth in total rebound percentage (20.1) and eighth in offensive rating (120.4). Valanciunas also collected a new single-game high with seven blocks April 1 against the Grizzlies. Arguably his best overall game of the season occurred Feb. 19 during a 10-point loss to the Bulls. Valanciunas played 33 minutes, recording 25 points, 12 rebounds, an assist and a block. It was one of his 22 double-doubles. His best extended stretch of the season occurred from Feb. 2-22. Across seven games, he averaged 15.7 points on 9.4 shots, 8.9 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and 1.0 assist in 26.1 minutes while not dipping below 10 points, 50 percent shooting, or six rebounds in any game. The Raptors finished the season 56-26, making it to the Eastern Conference Finals but losing to the Cavaliers after eliminating the Heat and Pacers. Valanciunas played only 12 of a possible 20 games due to a sprained ankle, averaging 13.8 points, 10.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 26.8 minutes.

2014

Valanciunas started all 80 games he appeared in during the 2014-15 campaign. He set career highs in points per game (12.0), as well as field-goal percentage (57.2, second best in the league). Valanciunas' total rebound percentage of 19.1 ranked seventh highest in the NBA. He also reached single-game career marks in points (31) and steals (three). Valanciunas' best performance of the season occurred Jan. 12 during a three-point loss to the Pistons. He played 36 minutes and recorded 31 points (14-of-15 FG, 3-of-4 FT), 12 rebounds and a block. It marked one of his 22 double-doubles. Valanciunas' best stretch of the season was eight games from March 22 to April 4. He averaged 14.9 points on 11.0 shots, plus 9.1 rebounds, 1.6 blocks and 1.3 assists over 28.9 minutes of run. Toronto finished the season 49-33, making the playoffs but losing in the First Round to the Wizards. Valanciunas averaged 11.3 points and 9.3 rebounds in 26.5 minutes over the four-game series.

2013

In 2013-14, Valanciunas' second year in the league and age-21 season, he started all 81 games he appeared in. That led to career highs in both average points (11.3) and rebounds (8.8). He also racked up new single-game career highs in points (26) and rebounds (21). Valanciunas' best performance of the season occurred April 9 during an 11-point victory over the 76ers. He played 37 minutes and recorded 26 points, 12 rebounds, two blocks and an assist to rack up one of his 25 double-doubles. That effort occurred during his best stretch of the season, which was the 11 games from March 26 to April 14. That span featured an average of 17.1 points on 10.4 shots, 11.2 rebounds and 1.0 assist over 33.5 minutes. Toronto finished with a 48-34 record but lost in Round 1 to the Nets. In the postseason, Valanciunas averaged 10.9 points, 9.7 rebounds and 1.0 block over 28.6 minutes in the seven-game series.

2012

Valanciunas played professionally in Lithuania before being drafted fifth overall in the 2011 NBA Draft by the Raptors. However, he didn't make his NBA debut until 2012-13. He eventually took the court during the first game of the season, playing 23 minutes as a starter and posting 12 points, 10 rebounds and a block. Valanciunas proceeded to appear in 62 games (57 starts), averaging 8.9 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks, which led to his selection to the All-Rookie Second Team. He set single-game career highs of 24 points, 13 rebounds, five blocks, three assists and two steals. Valanciunas' best effort occurred April 3 during a 10-point win over the Wizards. He started, played 41 minutes and posted 24 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks, a steal and an assist.

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Past Fantasy Outlooks
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Valanciunas was a key contributor in his first full season in Memphis during the 2019-20 campaign, averaging 14.9 points, a career-high 11.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists, and 1.1 blocks across 26.4 minutes over 70 games. The big man spaced the floor more than any other season prior as well, averaging a career-high 1.3 three-point attempts per contest and draining them at a 35.2 percent clip. The towering Lithuanian was pivotal to Memphis clinching a play-in berth in the Orlando bubble as well, posting six double-digit scoring efforts in seven seeding games, with five double-doubles and one triple-double in that span. Valanciunas displayed strong chemistry with dynamic point man Ja Morant and formed a formidable frontcourt tandem with Jaren Jackson. With Jackson having undergone meniscus surgery in August, there's a chance Valanciunas shoulders a bigger workload down low early in the 2020-21 season as his teammate rounds back into form. Under any circumstance, Valanciunas' solid offensive profile should keep his involvement on that end of the floor steady, potentially as a No. 3 or No. 4 option on many nights with small forward Kyle Anderson primarily focused on defense and fellow wing Dillon Brooks' shot still having plenty of room for improvement.
Valanciunas was traded to the Grizzlies shortly before the trade deadline in the Marc Gasol deal, playing 19 games with Memphis. He started 17 of those and put together strong averages of 20.2 points, 10.9 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game. It was a career stretch for the Lithuanian big man, who has averaged 12.5 points, 8.9 boards and 1.0 blocks over the last six seasons. He took on a greatly expanded role post-trade, going from just 18.8 minutes per night in Toronto to 27.7 in Memphis. He signed a three-year, $45 million extension to remain with the Grizzlies, and he will start at center opposite Jaren Jackson in what should be a formidable frontcourt. Expect Valanciunas to carry a similar workload as he did in his brief run with Memphis at the end of last season. He'll be a quality source of points, rebounds and blocks, making him likely one of the top-75 players off the board in most fantasy formats this season.
Valanciunas once again put up strong per-minute numbers in his sixth season despite his workload being the smallest of his career. He finished the year averaging just 22.4 minutes, which was likely an attempt by the Raptors to go with some smaller, more athletic lineups to matchup better with opponents across the league. Despite more than a three-minute drop in his playing time from the year prior, Valanciunas upped his scoring to 12.7 points, and also kept similar averages elsewhere with 8.6 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 0.9 blocks. His value could see a resurgence heading into the upcoming campaign as well. Recently promoted head coach Nick Nurse appears to be a big fan of the seven-footer and thinks he can be effective playing alongside Kyle Lowry and newly acquired Kawhi Leonard, who was brought over in a trade that sent DeMar DeRozan to San Antonio. Valanciunas already previewed a solid three-point stroke last year, knocking down 30-of-74 attempts (40.5 percent) and has apparently continued to work on it this offseason. That improvement could help expand his game and keep him on the floor for longer durations. The Raptors haven't confirmed who will start in the frontcourt, but Valanciunas should reclaim his top spot at center, with the likes of Serge Ibaka and OG Anunoby alternating as the starting power forward. With promising youngster Jakob Poeltl also being sent to the Spurs, Valanciunas has the potential to see a slight uptick in his workload, which opens the door for him to out-perform his likely draft positioning in the mid-to-late rounds of drafts.
It was a relatively disappointing 2016-17 campaign for Valanciunas, as he didn't quite have the statistical jump that was envisioned following the departure of Bismack Biyombo to the Magic. Valanciunas ended up averaging nearly identical minutes per game with 25.8, while adding 12.0 points and 9.5 rebounds over 80 starts, both of which were similar to the previous year's totals. The addition of Serge Ibaka at the trade deadline certainly didn't help either, as that allowed the Raptors to use a more athletic center that could stretch the floor occasionally, which appears to be the trend in today's NBA landscape. With Ibaka receiving a three-year, $65 million extension this offseason, that will likely again hamper Valanciunas' ability to show improvement with his overall production. He's still penciled in as the team's starting center, but Ibaka's versatility could continue to be an issue. Playing time similar to the 25.8 minutes he saw in 2016-17 is expected for the 25-year-old, although if the Raptors continue to experiment with a more athletic lineup and are successful in doing so, that could come at the expense of Valanciunas, which would hurt his potential as a Fantasy option.
While he didn’t quite develop into a fantasy star at the center spot in his fourth NBA campaign, Valanciunas nonetheless showed some incremental growth, which he’s been able to do during every season of his career. The 24-year-old didn’t benefit from a minute increase in 2015-16, but still averaged a career-high 12.8 points, 9.1 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game and shot 56.5 percent from the floor and 76.1 percent from the charity stripe. A fractured left hand ended up costing Valanciunas 22 games, disrupting what could have been a far more explosive breakout season. In Valanciunas’ stead, the energetic Bismack Biyombo proved to be a quality replacement in the starting lineup and was especially magnificent in the playoffs, when Valanciunas missed a few games with a sprained ankle. Biyombo’s capable presence either as a starter or off the bench certainly helped the Raptors from a team standpoint, but it hurt Valanciunas’ statistical output, as coach Dwane Casey often chose to split the minutes evenly between the two rather than riding one option more heavily. However, with Biyombo since bolting for the Magic this summer on a four-year, $72 million contract, Valanciunas no longer faces many threats to his playing time, as neither of his projected backups, Lucas Nogueira and first-round pick Jakob Poeltl, have served as regular rotation options in the NBA. With the promise of expanded minutes this season, only a bad beat on the health front stands in the way of Valanciunas surging past last year’s statistics. It’s probably best to view the fractured hand that temporarily derailed Valanciunas in 2015-16 as a fluke, considering he missed only three combined games in the preceding two seasons.
While expectations for Valanciunas were sky-high when he was drafted back in 2011, his slow progress has caused some Raptors fans to question whether he was really a long-term piece of the puzzle, but GM Masai Ujiri squashed any thought of getting rid of the young Lithuanian when he inked him to a four-year, $64 million extension this offseason. While he's not an elite center, Valanciunas is a positive contributor, averaging 26 minutes, 12.0 points, 8.7 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 0.4 steals, and 1.2 blocks in 80 games while shooting 57 percent from the floor and 79 percent from the free-throw line, excellent shooting numbers for a big man. At this point in his career, he should be able to handle a bigger workload, but Raptors coach Dwane Casey all but refuses to leave Valanciunas in the game when the other team uses a smaller lineup, a decision that makes some sense in the moment given Valanciunas' defensive struggles against quicker opponents but which has also unquestionably hindered his development. Casey may now face an additional $64 million in pressure to leave Valanciunas in the lineup come what may, so this season may be his best chance to prove he has true star potential.
Young centers can often take some time to blossom, and Valanciunas was no exception in his second NBA campaign. The 22-year-old Lithuanian still turned in solid numbers as he played in and started 81 games, averaging 11.3 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 0.9 blocks in 28 minutes per game while shooting 53 percent from the floor and an impressive-for-a-big 76 percent from the free-throw line (albeit on just 3.2 attempts per game). He was out of position too often on the defensive end to take full advantage of his shot-blocking potential, and despite the slew of talented, athletic guards and wings around him on the Raptors' roster, Valanciunas still tries to do a little too much offensively. He's got good size and athleticism and is developing a solid mid-range shot, and as his skills and maturity catch up with his physical tools, Valanciunas should become a consistent double-double threat. With DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry in place as the backcourt engine of the Raptors, the club is prepared to take their time and let Valanciunas develop at his own pace. He may not break out in 2014-2015, but he should take another step forward.
The 21-year-old center had an up-and-down rookie campaign with the Raptors. He routinely displayed some of the skills that made him the No. 5 overall pick in the 2011 draft, but he wasn't able to find his groove until late in the season. Once the Raptors opted to loosen the leash and hand over a full compliment of minutes to Valanciunas late in the season, he flashed future All-Star potential. Over the final 17 games of the regular season, Valanciunas averaged 14.2 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.7 blocks while shooting 63 percent from the floor and 84 percent from the line in 32 minutes per game. His productive ways carried over to the Las Vegas Summer League, where Valanciunas averaged 18.8 points and 10.0 rebounds en route to winning MVP honors. He bulked up significantly in the offseason, which should help deal with the physical rigors of the NBA game. And his skill set is considered elite for a young big man, as he has better-than-advertised athleticism and a deft touch around the rim, which will lead to a high shooting percentage. The Raptors parted ways with Andrea Bargnani this offseason and plan to hand over the keys to Valanciunas going forward. He'll have a much bigger role in his sophomore campaign and figures to be one of the more popular breakout options at the center position.
After falling to the Raptors with the fifth pick in 2011, Valanciunas will finally make his North American debut. He put up respectable numbers in Euroleague competition but struggled badly in the Olympics. He heads into the NBA looking like a solid defensive presence in the paint with great length (he's 6-11 with a big wingspan), a penchant for foul trouble and an unpolished offensive game. Don't expect a huge impact in any category outside of perhaps blocks, but in a few years there's a good chance he'll be the best true center in franchise history. If you need a comp to a current player's development curve, Tyson Chandler might be the best fit.
More Fantasy News
Decent output in playoff exit
CMemphis Grizzlies
June 3, 2021
Valanciunas mustered 18 points (8-13 FG, 2-4 3Pt), six rebounds, two steals and an assist across 27 minutes in Wednesday's loss to the Jazz.
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Musters double-double in loss
CMemphis Grizzlies
May 30, 2021
Valanciunas posted 10 points (5-9 FG, 0-2 3Pt), 13 rebounds and five assists actoss 35 minutes in Saturday's 121-111 loss to the Jazz.
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Double-double in win
CMemphis Grizzlies
May 24, 2021
Valanciunas accumulated 15 points (7-14 FG, 1-2 FT), 12 rebounds, three assists and one block in 39 minutes during Sunday's 112-109 win over the Jazz.
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Pulls down 12 boards
CMemphis Grizzlies
May 22, 2021
Valanciunas had nine points (3-6 FG, 1-1 3Pt, 2-4 FT), 12 rebounds and three assists across 26 minutes in Friday's overtime win over the Warriors.
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Delivers massive double-double
CMemphis Grizzlies
May 19, 2021
Valanciunas posted 23 points (10-16 FG, 0-1 3Pt, 3-6 FT), 23 rebounds, three blocks and an assist across 38 minutes in Wednesday's 100-96 win over the Spurs in the Western Conference play-in tournament.
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