The NBA’s most premier big man, Jonas Valanciunas, is finally getting the respect he deserves. After joining Stephen Curry in an exclusive club over the last two years with a full 60% of his field goal attempts coming from behind the arc this season, it has been hard to ignore that Valanciunas was able to establish himself as one of basketball’s elite players and scorers as a result.
The “who does steph curry play for” is a question that has been asked many times. Stephen Curry played for the Golden State Warriors before he was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA offseason.
Jonas Valanciunas of the New Orleans Pelicans never seems to receive the attention he deserves as one of the league’s best big men. With a huge performance against the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday, he tried to alter that.
Valanciunas dominated the boards and scored from all over the court against the Lakers. After everything was said and done, he found himself as one of just two members of an elite club, with Stephen Curry.
In New Orleans, most of the attention is still focused on Zion Williamson’s return from offseason foot surgery. Fans of the Pelicans, on the other hand, should be grateful to have a player like Valanciunas on the team.
Only Stephen Curry has achieved more this season than Jonas Valanciunas.
The Pelicans have struggled to win games this season, but Jonas Valanciunas insured that New Orleans would win against the Clippers right away.
From the outset of the competition, the 29-year-old made his presence felt. As the Pels raced out to a 15-point advantage in the first quarter, he scored 13 points. In the second quarter, Valanciunas stepped it up a notch, scoring 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting, including a perfect 4-of-4 from beyond the arc. He scored 29 points in the first half on 7-of-7 shooting from outside the arc.
The second half was just an encore. Valanciunas finished the game with a total of 39 points. In the latter two quarters, he also grabbed nine rebounds, putting him in Stephen Curry territory.
Valanciunas became the first player this season, other from Steph, to have 35 points, 10 rebounds, and seven 3-pointers in a single game. He is the fourth player in NBA history to score 35 points, 15 rebounds, and seven triples in a single game, according to NBA Twitter.
The audience applauded the performance, which was well-deserved. Valanciunas, on the other hand, has been pleading for greater recognition for quite some time.
Valanciunas is one of the NBA’s most underappreciated centers.
Despite the Pelicans’ struggles, Valanciunas is having an outstanding first season in New Orleans.
In the summer, the Pelicans acquired Valanciunas from the Memphis Grizzlies. Valanciunas has averaged 19.3 points, 12.4 rebounds, and 2.4 assists in 23 games. On 2.5 attempts per game, he is hitting 51.7 percent from 3-point range, which is the greatest in the NBA. Those are fantastic figures, and they represent the value Valanciunas has brought for quite some time.
After being included in the Marc Gasol deal, the No. 5 selection in the 2011 NBA Draft lost out on an NBA title with the Toronto Raptors. But since then, he’s just improved his game. Valanciunas has averaged 16.4 points and 11.9 rebounds over the previous two seasons. He’s shooting 57.4 percent from the field, with a true shooting percentage of 62.7 percent.
Valanciunas’ quality is also supported by advanced statistics. In that time, he has a +14 net rating and a 23.3 player efficiency rating (23.3).
Valanciunas lacks the star power of some of the NBA’s other big men. However, he is a capable stretch-5 who can score at all three levels and dominates the boards. He is also expected to have a part for the Pels in the near future.
Will Valanciunas be a trade asset or a building component for New Orleans?
On November 29, 2021, Jonas Valanciunas reacts during a game against the Los Angeles Clippers | Getty Images/Ronald Martinez
In New Orleans, Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram are the franchise’s pillars. Valanciunas, on the other hand, can contribute to the rebuilding effort.
Valanciunas inked a two-year, $30 million agreement with the Pelicans in October, extending his contract through the 2023-24 season. Until Williamson returns, New Orleans will have no idea what it has. Valanciunas, on the other hand, provides the Pels with a true inside force that can (eventually) help them win.
Perhaps the Lithuanian power forward can help the Pelicans turn their fortunes around. As a member of a Grizzlies team that reached the playoffs last season, he demonstrated his value.
Valanciunas, if nothing else, may be quite valuable in trade. He’ll earn $14.7 million next season and just over $15.4 million in 2023-24, both of which are team-friendly enough to make him a valuable commodity for a variety of suitors.
Regardless, Valanciunas continues to gain popularity among the general public.
Basketball Reference provided the statistics. Spotrac provided contract details.
RELATED: Zion Williamson is still out, but a comeback might be on the way for the New Orleans Pelicans star.
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