Jonas Valančiūnas (Lithuanian pronunciation: [ˈjoːnɐs vɐɫɐnʲˈtɕûːnɐs]; born 6 May 1992) is a Lithuanian professional basketball player for the Memphis Grizzlies of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He was selected by the Toronto Raptors with the fifth overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft.
Valančiūnas with the Raptors in 2018
|No. 17 – Memphis Grizzlies|
|Born||6 May 1992|
|Listed height||7 ft 0 in (2.13 m)|
|Listed weight||265 lb (120 kg)|
|NBA draft||2011 / Round: 1 / Pick: 5th overall|
|Selected by the Toronto Raptors|
|2010–2012||Lietuvos rytas Vilnius|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Stats at NBA.com|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
Valančiūnas has been a member of the Lithuania men's national basketball team since age 19. He won two EuroBasket silver medals in EuroBasket 2013 and EuroBasket 2015, earning All-Tournament honours in the latter. Valančiūnas also appeared in the documentary The Other Dream Team.
Perlas Vilnius (2008–2010)Edit
Valančiūnas started playing professionally for Perlas in 2008. During the 2008–09 season the team played in the Lithuanian National Basketball League (NKL), Lithuania's second strongest league, but moved up to the top-tier Lithuanian Basketball League (LKL) the following season. In January 2009 Valančiūnas signed a long-term contract with Lithuanian powerhouse Lietuvos Rytas, but, as Perlas was Lietuvos Rytas' daughter club, he did not immediately move to Lietuvos Rytas, staying in Perlas for the first half of the 2009–10 season.
Lietuvos rytas Vilnius (2010–2012)Edit
On 17 January 2010, Valančiūnas finally moved to Lietuvos Rytas. A month after that Lietuvos Rytas won the 2010 edition of Lithuanian Basketball Federation LKF Cup. While playing there, Valančiūnas has played in the LKL Finals three times, in 2010, 2011 and 2012. The team won the 2010 series against Žalgiris 4–3, but lost to the same team the following year 1–4 and 0-3 in 2012.
Valančiūnas became February's MVP in the VTB United League in 2012. Two months later he won the EuroCup Rising Star award and was named in the All-EuroCup squad. He averaged 10.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg and 1.6 bpg while shooting 63.4% from the field, leading Lietuvos Rytas to third place.
Valančiūnas participated in three LKL All-Star Games, the 2010, 2011 and 2012 LKL All-Star Games. During the 2011 All-Star Game Valančiūnas scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, helping the "Lithuanians" win the game. He was named as the 2011 LKL All-Star Game MVP. During the 2012 game he led his team to victory, scoring 25 points including one three-pointer, grabbing 13 rebounds and dishing out 6 assists. He won the MVP award once again.
Valančiūnas was named Lithuania Basketball Player of the Year three times, on 27 December 2011, on 11 December 2012 and on 17 December 2014. He was also twice named the FIBA European Young Player of the Year, on 13 February 2012  and on 6 February 2013.
Toronto Raptors (2012–2019)Edit
Valančiūnas was considered as a top prospect at the 2011 NBA draft, held on 23 June 2011, and was drafted fifth overall by the Toronto Raptors. He signed with the Raptors on 18 July 2012 and made his NBA debut on 31 October 2012, during a game against the Indiana Pacers. He recorded 12 points and 10 rebounds in 23 minutes of action as a starter, becoming the first Raptors rookie since Damon Stoudamire (1995) to record a double-double in his first game. On April 5, 2013, Valančiūnas was named Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for games played in March. He ranked first among Eastern Conference rookies in rebounds (7.3 rpg), blocks (1.07 bpg), and field goal percentage (.620). He also ranked second in free throw percentage (.822) and fourth in scoring (11.4 ppg), reaching double figures in points in 11 of his last 12 games (March 6–31).
On 27 December 2013, Valančiūnas recorded a then career-high 18 rebounds in a 95–83 win over the New York Knicks. On 9 April 2014, he scored a then career-high 26 points in a 125–114 win over the Philadelphia 76ers. Two days later, he recorded a then career-high 21 rebounds in a 108–100 loss to the New York Knicks. The Raptors finished as the third seed in the East Conference in 2013–14, and faced the sixth-seeded Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the playoffs. In Game 1 of the series, Valančiūnas recorded 17 points and 18 rebounds, surpassing Keon Clark's franchise record for most rebounds in a single playoff game. Valančiūnas also became the second Raptor ever to record a double-double in his playoff debut; the first was Tracy McGrady. The Raptors went on to lose the series 4–3.
On 31 January 2015, Valančiūnas scored a then career-high 31 points in a 114–111 loss to the Detroit Pistons. Valančiūnas finished the 2014–15 season with a back-to-the-basket shot percentage of 51.3%, good for second in the NBA behind fellow Lithuanian Donatas Motiejūnas of the Houston Rockets, who was attacking with 53.4% this way. Furthermore, Valančiūnas was ranked second in FG% category during the 2014–15 season.
On 20 August 2015, Valančiūnas signed a four-year, $64 million contract extension with the Raptors. Prior to the start of the 2015–16 season, Valančiūnas was named the 57th (out of 400) best player in the league by ESPN, jumping 34 positions from the previous season when he was ranked 91st. On 22 November 2015, he was ruled out for six weeks with a fracture in his left hand. He returned to action on 28 December against the Chicago Bulls after missing 17 games with the injury. On 10 March 2016, in a win over the Atlanta Hawks, he recorded 10 points and 10 rebounds, his career-high 16th straight game scoring in double figures and his 16th double-double of the season. His double figure record ended at 17 games after re-injuring his left hand on 14 March against the Chicago Bulls, leaving the game with 2:25 remaining in the first quarter and did not return.
On 30 March 2016, Valančiūnas recorded 19 points and 9 rebounds in a 105–97 win over the Atlanta Hawks, helping the Raptors record a 50-win season for the first time in franchise history. On 1 April, he recorded 11 points, 14 rebounds and a career-best seven blocks in a 99–95 win over the Memphis Grizzlies. The Raptors finished the regular season as the second seed in the East with a 56–26 record.
In Game 1 of the Raptors' first round playoff series against the seventh-seeded Indiana Pacers, Valančiūnas set a franchise playoff record with 19 rebounds, surpassing his own mark set in 2014. In Game 2 of the series, Valančiūnas recorded a playoff career-high 23 points and 15 rebounds in a 98–87 win, tying the series a 1–1. The Raptors went on to win the series 4–3. In the second round, the Raptors faced the Miami Heat, but in Game 3 of the series, Valančiūnas went down with a sprained right ankle. He subsequently missed eight straight games, returning to action in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Raptors went on to lose to the Cavaliers in Game 6, as the Raptors' deepest playoff run in franchise history came to an end with a 4–2 defeat.
In the Raptors' season opener on 26 October 2016, Valančiūnas recorded a career-high 32 points and 11 rebounds in a 109–91 win over the Detroit Pistons. On 10 January 2017, Valančiūnas grabbed a career-high 23 rebounds to go with 18 points in a 114–106 win over the Boston Celtics. On 31 March 2017, Valančiūnas made team history in the third quarter of the Raptors' 111–100 win over the Indiana Pacers. He had 13 of his 17 rebounds during the quarter, setting a franchise mark for most in a single period. He also had 16 points for his team-leading 28th double-double of the season. He also established a career high during the game, surpassing the 714 rebounds he had in the 2013–14 season.
On 11 January 2018, Valančiūnas had 15 points and a season-high 18 rebounds in a 133–99 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. On 26 January 2018, he had a season-high 28 points and 14 rebounds in a 97–93 loss to the Utah Jazz. In Game 2 of the Raptors' first-round playoff series against the Washington Wizards, Valančiūnas had 19 points and 14 rebounds, as Toronto took a 2–0 lead in a playoff series for the first time in franchise history with a 130–119 win. It was his 12th playoff double-double, matching Antonio Davis for the most in Raptors history. He set the Raptors' playoff double-double record in Game 5 with 14 points and 13 rebounds. The Raptors went on to win the series in six games to move on to the second round. In Game 1 of the Raptors' second-round series against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Valančiūnas recorded 21 points and 21 rebounds in a 113–112 overtime loss. It marked the best double-double performance by a Raptors player in the franchise's playoff history. The Raptors went on to be swept by the Cavaliers for the second straight year.
On 21 November 2018, Valančiūnas had season highs of 24 points and 13 rebounds in a 124–108 win over the Atlanta Hawks. On 5 December, he scored 18 of his season-high 26 in the fourth quarter of the Raptors' 113–102 win over the Philadelphia 76ers. On 13 December, he was ruled out for at least four weeks after undergoing surgery on his dislocated left thumb, an injury he sustained the previous night against the Golden State Warriors.
Memphis Grizzlies (2019–present)Edit
On 7 February 2019, Valančiūnas was traded, along with C. J. Miles, Delon Wright and a 2024 second-round draft pick, to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for Marc Gasol. On 12 February, after being medically cleared to return from the thumb injury, Valančiūnas made his debut for the Grizzlies, recording 23 points and 10 rebounds in a 108–107 loss to the San Antonio Spurs. On 20 March, Valančiūnas scored a then career-high 33 points and had 15 rebounds in the Grizzlies' 126–125 overtime win over the Houston Rockets. Two days later, he had 23 points and career-high 24 rebounds in a 123–119 overtime loss to the Orlando Magic. He set the franchise record for defensive rebounds in a game (23), surpassing Shareef Abdur-Rahim, who had 18 defensive boards twice. On 30 March, he set a new career high with 34 points to go with 20 rebounds (11 offensive) in a 120–115 win over the Phoenix Suns. It was a career-best sixth straight double-double for Valančiūnas, with the streak ending the next day against the Los Angeles Clippers after injuring his right ankle in the third quarter. On 1 April, he was ruled out for the rest of the season with a grade II right ankle sprain.
National team careerEdit
Valančiūnas made his debut for the junior national team of Lithuania in the 2008 FIBA Europe Under-16 Championship in Italy. He dominated throughout the tournament, averaging 14.3 points, 11.1 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in 23.5 minutes of action. His team went on to win the gold medal and he was chosen as the MVP.
In the summer of 2009, Valančiūnas participated in the European Under-18 All-Star Game during EuroBasket 2009 in Poland. He dominated the game as he scored 18 points, grabbed 19 rebounds, blocked three shots and helped the "Blue Team" beat the "White Team" 77:75. Valančiūnas was later named the MVP of the All-Star game.
One year later, Valančiūnas led Lithuania to another gold medal. Lithuania dominated in the 2010 FIBA Europe Under-18 Championship held in Lithuania. Valančiūnas averaged 19.4 points, 13.4 rebounds and 2.7 blocks, and was voted as the MVP.
Valančiūnas was also a member of the Lithuanian Under-19 basketball team, which competed in the 2011 FIBA Under-19 World Cup in Latvia. He led his team to capture the gold medal, averaging 23.0 points, 13.9 rebounds and 3.2 blocks in 31 minutes of game action. He was later named the tournament MVP. Valančiūnas scored 36 points in the gold medal game against Serbia, which was the highest points scored in a game by any player in the tournament. To this date he is the only player to achieve an MVP and Gold Medal in all of his FIBA U-tournaments.
Valančiūnas was on the senior men's Lithuanian national basketball team roster for EuroBasket 2011, which took place in Lithuania. Valančiūnas debuted with Lithuania's senior men's national basketball team on 6 August 2011. In his debut match against Czech Republic, he scored 26 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. After a strong performance in friendly pre-EuroBasket'11 matches, Valančiūnas was leading the Lithuanian national team with 12.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. Although Valančiūnas failed to be any kind of a leader in the first 4 games of EuroBasket 2011 (among them missing the game against Turkey), he then became one of the key players, averaging 8.4 points and 4.1 rebounds in just 15.7 minutes of game action. He also helped Lithuania to claim the 5th spot, which guaranteed qualification for the 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament. To this day, he is the all-time youngest Lithuanian to represent the primary national team at the major tournament.
In 2013, Valančiūnas won a silver medal at the EuroBasket 2013 tournament. In the 2014 FIBA World Cup, Valančiūnas led the Lithuanian squad, which finished 4th in the rankings. Valančiūnas was also one of the tournament's best players at EuroBasket 2015, and he was chosen to the All-Tournament Team, along with his Lithuanian teammate, Jonas Mačiulis, after averaging 16 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. The Lithuanian team won their second consecutive silver medal at the competition.
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field-goal percentage||3P%||3-point field-goal percentage||FT%||Free-throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game||PIR||Performance Index Rating|
Note: The EuroLeague is not the only competition in which the player participated for the team during the season. He also played in domestic competition, and regional competition if applicable.
Valančiūnas is the face of the "Itty Bitty Ballers" campaign, a campaign marketing miniature figurines with a basketball theme. The proceeds from the sale of the "Itty Bitty Ballers" goes to the MLSE Foundation charity.
- Jonas Valančiūnas signed contract with Lietuvos Rytas (in Lithuanian)
- Valančiūnas became the VTB United League player of the month Archived 19 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine ‹See Tfd›(in English)
- Valančiūnas named LKL All-Star Game MVP once again (in Lithuanian)
- Jonas Valančiūnas named Lithuania Player Of The Year (in Lithuanian)
- 23 thousands of fans decided: Valančiūnas is the best Lithuania basketball player in 2012 (in Lithuanian)
- Išrinkti geriausi 2014 metų krepšininkai – Jonas Valančiūnas ir Gintarė Petronytė (in Lithuanian)
- Jonas Valančiūnas named FIBA European Young Player of the Year ‹See Tfd›(in English)
- Jonas Valančiūnas named FIBA European Young Player of the Year ‹See Tfd›(in English)
- Raptors Sign Centre Jonas Valanciunas
- Notebook: Pacers 90, Raptors 88
- Valanciunas, Lillard nab monthly rookie honors
- Jonas Valanciunas is the 2013 Las Vegas Summer League MVP
- Jonas Valanciunas named 2013 Las Vegas Summer League MVP
- Notebook: Raptors 95, Knicks 83
- Jonas Valanciunas guides Toronto Raptors to win over lowly Philadelphia 76ers
- Raptors secure division despite loss to Knicks
- Notebook: Nets 94, Raptors 87
- Jennings helps Pistons knock off Raptors 114-111
- Paaiškėjo statistinis rodiklis, pagal kurį abu lietuviai NBA neturėjo lygių (in Lithuanian)
- "NBA Statistics - 2015". ESPN. Retrieved 17 October 2015.
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- "#NBArank: Nos. 51-60". ESPN. 13 October 2015. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
- Sources: Raptors C Jonas Valanciunas opts for rehab instead of hand surgery
- Snell, Gasol spark Bulls to 104-97 win over the Raptors
- DeMar DeRozan has 30 points and Raptors top Hawks 104-96
- Bulls win ninth straight against Raptors, 109-107
- "Raptors beat Hawks 105-97 to notch first 50-win season". NBA.com. 30 March 2016. Retrieved 31 March 2016.
- "DeRozan, Lowry lead Raptors past Grizzlies 99-95". NBA.com. 1 April 2016. Retrieved 1 April 2016.
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- "Lowry's triple-double leads Raptors, Carter gets milestone". ESPN.com. 21 November 2018. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
- "Leonard scores 36 points as Raptors beat 76ers 113-102". ESPN.com. 5 December 2018. Retrieved 5 December 2018.
- Howard, Chelsea (13 December 2018). "Jonas Valanciunas injury update: Raptors center to miss 4 weeks after having thumb surgery". SportingNews.com. Retrieved 13 December 2018.
- "Raptors Acquire Gasol From Grizzlies". NBA.com. 7 February 2019. Retrieved 7 February 2019.
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- "Postgame Report: Shorthanded Grizzlies Stumble to Magic in OT, 123-119". NBA.com. 22 March 2019. Retrieved 23 March 2019.
- "Valanciunas' huge night helps Grizzlies overcome Booker's 48". ESPN.com. 30 March 2019. Retrieved 31 March 2019.
- "Clippers rout Grizzlies 113-96 to close March with 13-2 mark". ESPN.com. 31 March 2019. Retrieved 1 April 2019.
Valanciunas' streak of double-doubles in a career-high six straight games ended.
- "Jonas Valanciunas medical update 4.1.19". NBA.com. 1 April 2019. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
- Valančiūnas named Europe U-16 Championship MVP[permanent dead link] (in Lithuanian)
- Valančiūnas named European Under-18 All-Star Game MVP Archived 24 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine ‹See Tfd›(in English)
- Valančiūnas named Europe U-18 Championship MVP (in Lithuanian)
- Valančiūnas named World U-19 Championship MVP Archived 12 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine ‹See Tfd›(in English)
- Jonas Valančiūnas powerfully debuted in Lithuania national men's basketball team (in Lithuanian)
- Valančiūnas – rezultatyviausias rinktinės žaidėjas pasiruošimo cikle (in Lithuanian)
- Jonas Valanciunas profile ‹See Tfd›(in English)
- Urbonas, Donatas. "Domantą Sabonį nuo istorinio įrašo Lietuvos krepšinyje skyrė nenumatytos aplinkybės". 24sek.lt. Retrieved 2 September 2015.
- "Gasol Headlines All-Star Five Presented By Tissot". EuroBasket2015.org. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
- Q&A: Valanciunas reveals secret behind 'Itty Bitty Ballers'