Toronto Raptors: Jonas Valanciunas will be vital to playoff success

TORONTO, ON - MAY 07: Jonas Valanciunas
TORONTO, ON - MAY 07: Jonas Valanciunas /

The past couple seasons, Demar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry have struggled to put up points in the playoffs. That is why the Toronto Raptors need a player to rely on, and that player is Jonas Valanciunas.

Jonas Valanciunas has developed into a player who head coach Dwane Casey and the rest of the Toronto Raptors’ coaching staff can rely on.

The Lithuanian centre was selected fifth overall in the 2011 draft and in his first season, Valanciunas averaged 8.9 pts/6 reb/0.7 assists in 62 games.

In comparison to 75 games this season, he is averaging12.6 pts/8.6 reb/1.1 assists per game. What really stands out for Valanciunas, however, is his numbers per 36 minutes, with him averaging 20.2 pts/13.8 reb/1.7 assists.

These numbers above show the Raptors can and should rely on Valanciunas to be a catalyst for the offensive gameplan in the playoffs. The main reason why they should integrate him into their offensive plays more in the first half is so that it allows DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry to establish their offence at their pace.

Another reason why the Raptors need to rely on Valanciunas is because he’s the Cleveland Cavaliers’ kryptonite.

In the three games against the Cavaliers this season, Valanciunas has averaged 15.7 pts/12 reb/1.3 assists. On the surface, averaging only a double-double against arguably the best team in the East isn’t amazing. However, the most time he played in out of those three games was only 22 minutes.

Back on Apr. 3 against the Cavaliers, Valanciunas shared his playing time with Jakob Poeltl. Poeltl played 17 minutes that game and only scored 4 pts/2 reb/ 1 assists. Valanciunas had a double-double going, but was taken out in the third quarter and saw zero action in the final quarter of the game.

With Valanciunas having strong numbers against the Cavaliers this season it was puzzling to see him not being used more in the game, especially when the Raptors tried to make a late comeback.

When Valanciunas can have an impact on a game like the above video shows, it is hard to argue against using him in a more prominent role.  Until DeRozan and others can produce more consistently on the offensive side, Casey needs to make Valunciunas a bigger part of the team’s offensive arsenal in the playoffs in order to be successful.

Next: Raptors pace themselves to record-breaking win over Indiana

Do you agree that Valanciunas should be given more playing time especially if the Raptors play the Cavaliers in the playoffs? Share your thoughts with Thomas on Twitter or in the comments below.