Jonas Valančiūnas (Lithuanian pronunciation: [ˈjoːnɐs vɐɫɐnʲˈt͡ʃûːnɐs]; born 6 May 1992) is a Lithuanian professional basketball player for the Toronto Raptors of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He has been a member of the Lithuania men's national basketball team since age 19. Valančiūnas was selected by the Raptors with the fifth overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft. Valančiūnas has also appeared in the documentary The Other Dream Team.
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 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 didn't move to Lietuvos Rytas instantly and stayed in Perlas for the first half of the 2009–10 season.
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.
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 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 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.
National team career
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 Championship 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 tournament.
In 2014 FIBA World Cup, Valančiūnas led the Lithuanian squad, which finished 4th in the rankings.
Valančiūnas also was one of the tournament's best players in EuroBasket 2015 and was chosen to the All-Tournament Team after averaging 16 points and 8.4 rebounds per game, along with his teammate Jonas Mačiulis. The team won their second consecutive European championship silver medals back then.
|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.