3) Starting the season with a career night
There were many times during the Dwane Casey era, when critics believed he didn’t know how to utilise Valanciunas properly. They always believed Casey didn’t take advantage of the inside scoring threat the big man could offer.
The offensive game plan often revolved around the iso play, going through DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. Valanciunas was essentially left to pick up the scraps if he wanted to contribute points.
Despite this approach, Valanciunas highlighted how much of a scoring threat he could be, during the Raptors’ season opener in October 2016. Facing the Detroit Pistons in Toronto, he had a career night shooting the rock.
DeRozan got most of the headlines, leading the team with 40 points in a 109-91 win over the Pistons. However, this didn’t take away from the performance of his teammate.
Valanciunas finished the game with a career-high 32 points, shooting 10-15 from the field and 12-14 from the charity stripe. Just for good measures, he also grabbed 11 boards to secure the game’s only double-double.