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Tag:Toronto Raptors
Posted on: October 26, 2011 11:58 am
 

Report: Stefanski to join Raptors, finally

By Matt Moore

It was quiet news next to the announcement that Will Smith would be joining the Sixers' ownership group after the completion of the sale, but Ed Stefanski was finally, mercifully sent on his way at last week's press conference to announce the sale of the team to Joshua Harris was complete. Stefanski had randomly popped up on the radar for several GM jobs including the Raptors and Blazers, prompting speculation that he indeed was not part of the new regime's plans

But Stefanski has landed on his feet, according to Yahoo! Sports via Twitter:
Toronto is finalizing an agreement with Ed Stefanski to become Raptors Exec. VP of Basketball Operations, league sources tell Y!
via Twitter / @WojYahooNBA: Toronto is finalizing an a ....

Stefanski replaces Masai Ujiri who left over a year ago so he could put up with nine months of insane Melo nonsense. Stefanski will work under President of Basketball Operations Bryan Colangelo, who still pulls the strings. There have been rumors that Colangelo's power was being undermined by ownership, and Stefanski's arrival could be a forced move from his higher ups. But Colangelo has enough tenure and reputation to bat down any such insinuations, and most likely just needed a No.2 man. 

Stefanski had mixed results in Philadelphia. Inconsistent teams that made the playoffs some years and didn't others, the confusing draft approach and the general lack of boldness in the approach to team building. In reality, the team isn't much different from where he took over. He did build a solid defensive squad, however, something the Raptors are very much trying to do with the addition of new head coach Dwane Casey.
Posted on: September 24, 2011 2:36 pm
Edited on: September 24, 2011 2:36 pm
 

First up for each team in a post-lockout world

Posted by Royce Young



So the lockout could be ending soon, depending on who you're listening to. Maybe it extends into the season, but if it doesn't and a deal gets settled in the next few weeks, we're going to have one heck of a free agency period. Really, no matter when it's settled, we're going to have one wild free agency period.

(Unless we were to miss all of 2011-12 and you combined this class with next year's group. Now that would be something.)

If you thought the summer of 2010 was a frenzy, try cramming it all into a two-week period. Maybe I'm just thinking of how horrible it'll be for me. Regardless, you can be sure that all 30 teams have a pre-written itinerary on what they want to accomplish once the lockout is lifted. They have been planning, plotting and preparing to target the players they want or finish up a few final transactions on the roster.

But what's the first order of business for everybody? What's the priority, the thing that each team wants to get done right away? Here's a stab at each team's top job.

Atlanta Hawks: It really appears that the Hawks are ready and willing to let Jamal Crawford walk, but there's still a decision to made whether or not they want to compete for him in the free agent market. He was a key part of the team that made a somewhat surprising run to the Eastern Semifinals and re-signing him could be a priority. Problem is, they don't really have the funds for it.

Boston Celtics: What happens with Jeff Green? The Celtics have already tendered him a qualifying offer, but someone surely will extend him an offer sheet. The Celtics have issues at center still and Glen Davis is unrestricted, but figuring out Jeff Green's situation is probably weighing heaviest on Danny Ainge's mind.

Charlotte Bobcats: The Bobcats made a big splash in the draft, but if that's going to matter, they've got to get Bismack Biyombo on the team. His buyout could still be a major issue and though he says he'll be on the team when training camp starts, that's definitely up in the air.

Chicago Bulls: Wing scorer. Say it with me, wing scorer. Derrick Rose needs help (and an extension) in a big time way and it's up to Gar Foreman and company to find that help. Jamal Crawford maybe? Caron Butler? J.R. Smith if he wasn't in China? Someone has to give Rose a little offensive help and that's the top priority for the Bulls.

Cleveland Cavaliers: First thing? Putting Baron Davis on the scales to make sure he doesn't weigh 300 pounds. After that, there isn't a whole lot to be done in Cleveland. The club's rebuilding around their two lottery picks and you don't want to crowd the roster in a way that stunts their development.

Dallas Mavericks: The defending champs have a whole lot on their plate once the lockout ends. Caron Butler's contract is up. So is J.J. Barea's. So is DeShawn Stevenson's. So is Brian Cardinal's (just kidding -- well it is up, but you know what I mean). But the first order of business for Mark Cuban is to get Tyson Chandler re-signed. Not just that though, but to get him re-signed to a number that makes sense for the make-up of the roster.

Denver Nuggets: Despite the lockout, the Nuggets have kind of been gutted. J.R. Smith, Kenyon Martin and Wilson Chandler are in China until at least March. Danilo Gallinari signed in Italy but has an NBA out. But all of that doesn't matter near as much as getting Nene re-signed. Without Nene, it doesn't matter. With Nene, there's still something worth building around.

Detroit Pistons: The Pistons are kind of trying to quietly usher out the old and bring in some new. Tayshaun Prince is a free agent, but I don't think they care. What'll be most interesting is how they handle Rodney Stuckey. The Pistons drafted Brandon Knight in June with Stuckey already their point guard. Do they want Knight to take over? Do they want to play them together? Share the role? Sorting out Stuckey's future is definitely what Joe Dumars has to do first.

Golden State Warriors: The Warriors could be players in free agency, but really, it's about deciding once and for all if Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry really are the backcourt tandem of the future for the team. If there's a time to move on, it's now when both of their values are still high. The Warriors flirted with dealing Ellis last season but it didn't happen. They're probably planning on revisiting that.

Houston Rockets: First order of business: Properly sending off Yao with a jersey retirement ceremony. After that, the Rockets are fairly settled, though you know Daryl Morey is just itching to pick up a phone and start transacting once the lockout's over.

Indiana Pacers: The Pacers have a number of expiring deals and aren't likely looking to re-sign them (maybe Josh McRoberts, maybe Jeff Foster). Larry Bird has been hunting more pieces to add to his mediocre roster for a while and you can be sure the Pacers are going to target some of the bigger free agent names in this class.

Los Angeles Clippers: Eric Gordon is ready for an extension, but the Clippers better be ready to match any offer DeAndre Jordan gets. You might not think that's a big deal, but forget Chris Kaman. The future of the Clips frontcourt is Blake Griffin and Jordan. You seven-footer from Texas A&M finally started figuring himself out a little last season and he's not far off from becoming a major defensive impact player.

Los Angeles Lakers: Shannon Brown's unrestricted, but he's really not that much of an impact player to be that concerned with. The Lakers might have to focus on how to re-structure the roster to suit a new CBA that could greatly cut into their total salary. Will they have to move Lamar Odom? Metta World Peace? But first things first: Giving Kobe and Mike Brown a proper introduction and letting them figure out the direction of the offense.

Memphis Grizzlies: Marc Gasol. That's it for Memphis. It'd be nice to get Shane Battier back, but it's all about Gasol.

Miami Heat: It's kind of been overlooked, but Pat Riley and the Heat have a busy couple weeks waiting on them. Mike Bibby, Jamaal Magloire, Juwan Howard, Erick Dampier and James Jones are all unrestricted and Mario Chalmers is restricted. It's decision time for the Heat. Do they start restocking with veteran talent or look to get younger and develop?

Milwaukee Bucks: That first practice in Milwaukee is something Scott Skiles has probably been thinking about for a while. "Brandon, this is Stephen. Stephen, this is Brandon." The Bucks have some new talent as Stephen Jackson joins Brandon Jennings, but how will they get along?

Minnesota Timberwolves: Here's what David Kahn's to-do list looks like: 1) Hug Ricky. 2) Hug Darko. 3) Overpay a questionable free agent at a position you already have three guys. What it should look like: 1) Convince Kevin Love somehow to sign an extension. 2) Get rid of Michael Beasley and let Derrick Williams have the starting small forward spot all to himself. 3) Tell Rick Adelman to do his thing.

New Jersey Nets: Kris Humphies is an important piece of business but his re-signing goes hand in hand with the larger thing: Proving to Deron Williams that this is a place he wants to re-sign. The Nets have to take advantage right away of showing Williams they're serious about winning. And you do that by getting him some immediate help.

New Orleans Hornets: It's all about David West for the Hornets. Yes, he suffered a major knee injury last season. But he chose to become an unrestricted free agent and a team like the Nets is likely to come calling quickly. Can the Hornets hang on to Chris Paul's buddy?

New York Knicks: The Knicks have a little bit coming off the books but really they need to try and resist the urge to do something drastic in this free agency period. Which they will because of the big names coming up in 2012. Still, they want to field a solid team for this season -- and Mike D'Antoni needs them too -- so adding a quality veteran to help on the inside would be good.

Oklahoma City Thunder: The young Thunder roster is pretty much entirely set up. But Sam Presti has something to do right away once the lockout ends -- get Russell Westbrook his extension. Presti brought Kevin Durant his at midnight last July to make sure there was no doubt about locking up his superstar. Presti better be stalking Westbrook's house on the whim he lockout ends so he can extend the same treatment to his other star.

Orlando Magic: First order of business for Otis Smith and the Magic? Resume begging Dwight Howard to stay. One way to show it would be to get him some help, but Smith sort of laid those cards on the table last year in the Gilbert Arenas/Hedo Turkoglu trade. So it's back to convincing Howard there's a plan for the future and that it'll get better.

Philadelphia 76ers: Someone is ready and willing to give Thaddeus Young a serious offer, so the Sixers better be ready to match anything and everything.

Phoenix Suns: Steve Nash's trade value will be highest at the beginning of the season, so it's up to Lance Blanks and Robert Sarver to figure out if they're ready to move on. Aaron Brooks is a restricted free agent so if the Suns lock him up by matching an offer sheet, that'll be an indication that the Suns are preparing for life without Nash.

Portland Trail Blazers: The Blazers are in love with Nicolas Batum, so extending him could be the first order of business, but really, the Blazers need to find a new general manager first. And whoever that guy is needs to decide that if for the off chance someone gives Greg Oden an offer, if he's willing to match. Oden already has an $8.8 qualifying offer, which is huge, so once Oden signs that, he'll likely be signing with the Blazers for another year.

Sacramento Kings: The Jimmer-Tyreke backcourt is going to be an interesting experiment, but Marcus Thornton is quietly one of the more intriguing free agents out there. The Bulls are likely looking at him long and hard right now. He's restricted, so the Kings could keep him, but the question is, with Tyreke moving off the ball for good and Jimmer handling the point, is it worth paying Thornton to just have him come off the bench?

San Antonio Spurs: Um, I guess just resume the typical day-to-day of the Spurs. Gregg Popovich is the longest tenured coach with a team and R.C. Buford probably isn't looking to go do anything drastic in this market. The Spurs are definitely aging, but there's not a lot to be done about that right now.

Toronto Raptors: Assuming the Raptors actually have Jonas Valanciunas for next season, Dwane Casey and company have to figure out if he's ready to cover for Andrea Bargnani on the inside. Can those two really play together and handle enough rebounding and defensive duties? The Raptors are in a place where they have to wait and see with some young players and aren't likely targeting any big names in the open market.

Utah Jazz: Most likely, Andrei Kirilenko won't be re-signing with the Jazz. So Kevin O'Connor will have to make a choice when the lockout's over: Does he try and restock a roster that can maybe squeak out the eight-seed, or does he commit to rebuilding around Enes Kanter, Derrick Favors and others and just let them play it out? The Jazz would love to get some wing scoring help, so O'Connor will probably at least look that direction, but we'll have to see how serious he is.

Washington Wizards: It's not an earth-shattering decision, but Nick Young is a restricted free agent. And with his scoring ability, someone is ready to pay him. Do the Wizards want to keep him? Do they want to look elsewhere and maybe target say, Marcus Thornton? Or do they just let Young walk and see what Jordan Crawford's got?
Posted on: September 5, 2011 1:14 pm
Edited on: September 5, 2011 1:42 pm
 

Realigning the NBA

Posted by Royce Young



Conference realignment has sort of taken over the world the past few weeks. Texas A&M pretty much put the nail in the coffin for the Big 12 by bolting for the SEC and because of it, a whole new chain of events have tipped over. The landscape of college football could look a whole lot different in a few months. Or in a few weeks. Or even tomorrow.

But you know what else could use a little realigning? The NBA's divisions. They're kind of a mess. It's not going to be as a result of some $300 million network, recruiting ties or competitive advantages. Nope. For the NBA, it's more just about common sense. Geographically, the divisions are kind of a mess. In 2011 that's not as huge a deal as it was in 1981 because travel is much easier. You can go from Portland to Oklahoma City in just a few hours.

However, chartered travel is experience. Fuel is very pricey. And with the NBA and teams supposedly losing so much money, why not exhaust every option to cut costs and realign the divisions so they make a lot more sense? Why not group teams together that are hundreds, not thousands, of miles apart?

Plus, it just makes a lot more sense to have structured regions. Grouping teams together based on geography does more to forge rivalries, gives fans a chance to commute between games if the want to and gives the players less travel and more days of rest. All good, right?

So if you're going to spend all this time restructuring a new collective bargaining agreement, why not fix the divisions too? Here's how they should look:

WESTERN CONFERENCE

SOUTHWEST
Dallas
San Antonio
Houston
Phoenix
Oklahoma City

The NBA's new Southwest division is the American League East, the SEC West, of the league. It's a group of five teams that are all pretty good. Things change though and in 15 years, this could be the weakest division in the league. But for now, it'd be pretty good.

And it just makes sense. Dallas and Oklahoma City are about three hours via car away from each other. San Antonio, Dallas and Houston are in the same state. And OKC and the Texas teams and Phoenix just have one state separating them, which is a whole lot better than five.

MIDWEST
Memphis
Minnesota
Denver
Utah
Milwaukee

Clearly the division that needed the biggest overhaul is the Northwest, mainly because of the Sonics transformation into the Oklahoma City Thunder. When the team was in Seattle, the division made a lot more sense. Now it doesn't. That's why a midwestern division with makes a lot more sense.

That creates somewhat of a problem in the Northwest though. There's not a great fit. So for the sake of the argument, the Northwest has to make the Big 12 and peace out. No more Northwest, but instead the new Midwest.

The new Midwest is still a bit spread out, but all the teams are at least located somewhat centrally in the country. A trip from Utah to Milwaukee won't be quick, but the Jazz, Nuggets and Timerwolves have been oddballs in the Northwest. It's not an ideal division with teams right next door to each other, but it makes a lot more sense than the current setup.

PACIFIC
Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles Clippers
Sacramento
Golden State
Portland

Moving Phoenix away from the Lakers is a bummer, because those two teams are historical rivals that have always competed in the same division. But if A&M and Texas can separate, I think we can live with the Suns and Lakers moving apart.

The Pacific now features five teams that are actually next to the Pacific Ocean, which seems like it should count for something. Plus having the Blazers and Lakers together makes up for separating the Suns and Lakers.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

CENTRAL
Chicago
Detroit
Indiana
Cleveland
Toronto

Really, the new Central was the inspiration for this. Why aren't the Raptors in this division? Look at how close those teams are to each other. I think you could almost ride your bike between arenas. The old Central was really good too -- maybe better -- but the Bucks have to move. So it's the Raptors who replace them and the solid geographic setup remains.

ATLANTIC
Boston
New York
Philadelphia
Washington
New Jersey

Nothing too radical here. Five cities that you can transport between using a train. Old rivalries are preserved and the Wizards are added, which frankly, makes a lot of sense.

SOUTHEAST
Miami
Orlando
Atlanta
Charlotte
New Orleans

Two teams would swap conferences with the Bucks moving back to the West and the Hornets heading to the East. Not that this would upset the competitive balance of the league or anything, but it just makes a lot more sense for the Hornets to be placed in a division with Orlando, Charlotte, Atlanta and Miami.

And let me add this: If college football has no issue tossing tradition and historical rivalries out the window, why not just eliminate conferences all together? It would be a radical move, but what's the point of the East and West, other than just that's the structure of the playoffs? If it were one unified "super" conference, that would finally solve the issues of a 50-win Western team missing the postseason while a 37-win Eastern team slips into the eight-seed.

You could even just build the league into three 10-team divisions. Combine the Southwest and the Pacific, the Midwest and the Central, and the Atlantic and the Southeast. There are your super-divisions. Now you can keep teams playing more in their division than anything else and cut down on long road trips. It would make a West coast road trip for the Mavericks a whole heck of a lot more interesting.

Basically, we'd be looking at a league with three sub-conferences and once the playoffs started, seeding would just be based from that. Almost like the NCAA tournament, you could set two regions and seed from there. Head-to-head tiebreakers, division records and all that stuff would separate any identical records. Just an idea while we're brainstorming, you know?

(Note: I don't really love that idea, quite honestly. But I was just throwing it out there. One of those things that probably makes sense, but wouldn't ever happen. Much like Bill Simmons' terrific "Entertaining As Hell Tournament." Really, a unified conference makes it easier to implicate the tournament too.)

Let's face it: The West has kind of sort of dominated the past decade. Sports operate in cycles, but if there's a way to prevent that, should we? The West compiled a record of 2,257-1,643 against the East from 1999-2008 and over the last 13 seasons has represented 10 champions. That's pretty dominant. That'll change eventually, but what really is the point of the conferences, other than the standard, "that's just the way it's always been done" answer? 

All that is after the fact though: Divisional realignment is the start. Fixing the structure of the postseason would be the ideal next step. It's kind of like a plus-one for college football. Maybe a pipe dream, but something that's really in the best interest of the game. But if anything's to be done, it's to realign the divisions so they at least make a little more sense. Preserve rivalires, start new ones, save money, cut down on travel and hopefully, help the league grow a little bit more.

Picture via Jockpost
Posted on: August 19, 2011 12:28 pm
 

Barbosa signs with Brazilian team

Posted by Royce Young

For once, an NBA player isn't going overseas to Europe to play during the lockout. He's staying right at home. His home, that is.

Raptors guard Leandro Barbosa has signed with Brazlian team Flamengo to play next season. He picked up his player option with the Raptors already so he is under contract though with an NBA team. So of course he'll need that pesky opt-out. Which he does.

"I'm delighted to play in Brazil after so much time, 'cause Brazilian basketball improved a lot in recent years," Barbosa told the Toronto Sun. "I had proposals from China, Turkey and other countries. But I was sure I'd be happy here."

Barbosa is a native of Brazil and spends a lot of time there in the offseason. And an interesting note to this: According to the Sun's story, Barbosa actually considered opting out of his final year in his contact with the Raptors so he could return to Brazil anyway. Problem was, he couldn't find anything close to the $7.6 million he's guaranteed from the Raptors.
Posted on: August 11, 2011 4:37 pm
Edited on: August 11, 2011 9:33 pm
 

Ex-NBA player Jimmy King arrested at church

Posted by Ben Golliverjimmy-king-2

The long arm of the law isn't afraid to extend itself in a place of worship.

The Detroit Free Press reports that Jimmy King, former NBA player and member of the University of Michigan's famed Fab Five team, was arrested while at church for failure to thousands of dollars of child support.
King, who turned 38 on Tuesday, was arraigned in Oakland County Circuit Court and charged with one count of failure to pay support, a felony carrying a maximum four-year prison term, according to John Sellek, state Attorney General spokesman. He said King owed $17,209 for one child, from 2008 to 2011.

Sellek said King was arrested without incident at 5 p.m. Tuesday at New St. Mark Baptist Church in Detroit, after agents saw a flyer about a basketball camp that advertised King’s involvement. Sellek added that agents had tried to reach King about outstanding child support by phone and by leaving notes at his home for six weeks.

"When it comes to child support,” said Attorney General Bill Schuette, “no matter who you are, you have to play by the rules.”
King, a 6-foot-5 guard originally hailing from Texas, played two seasons in the NBA, appearing in 62 games for the Toronto Raptors in 1995-1996 and in two games for the Denver Nuggets in 1996-1997. He averaged 4.5 points and 1.8 rebounds in his NBA career. He is perhaps better known as one of the less-heralded members of the Fab Five freshman recruiting class that also included NBA stars Chris Webber, Jalen Rose and Juwan Howard. The quintet appeared in back-to-back NCAA Championship games in 1992 and 1993. 

Incidentally, Rose, now a television commentator, was also arrested this year on a drunk driving charge and sentenced to 20 days in jail. Both King and Rose appeared in a recent television documentary about the Fab 5 that sparked a controversy when they made controversial remarks about Duke University and Grant Hill earlier this year.

Basketball-Reference.com reports King's NBA career earnings at more than $600,000. He later played abroad and in the Continental Basketball Association.

Hat tip: Marcel Mutoni

Posted on: August 7, 2011 8:19 pm
Edited on: August 8, 2011 11:50 am
 

DeMar DeRozan apologizes for Drew League fracas

Posted by Ben Golliverdemar-derozan

Toronto Raptors forward DeMar DeRozan is a native of Compton and a veteran of the esteemed Drew League, the West Coast's best known summer league circuit.

On Saturday, DeRozan had the chance to pull out a last-second win in a Drew League playoff game for his Go H.A.M. team. Instead, he was at the center of a mini-controversy that resulted in a tossed ball, a bumped referee and a bunch of yapping.

Here's how it went down. Go H.A.M. trailed a Long Beach team named Problems 85-84 with six seconds left. DeRozan took a side inbounds pass near the three-point line, drove hard right into the key and contacted a rotating help defender while putting up a runner. The runner bounced off but was dunked in by one of DeRozan's teammates on the put-back. That potentially game-winning basket didn't count, however, because a referee whistled DeRozan for a charge on the play. (See video of the play below.)

Play continued with Problems hitting two free throws. Go H.A.M. wasn't able to get up a game-tying three-pointer on their final possession and time expired, giving Problems the 87-84 victory. After the buzzer sounded, DeRozan made a point to track down the basketball, which he heaved across the court in frustration. Moments later, one of his teammates charged at the referee, body-bumping him with a fair bit of force, causing the official to stagger backwards but not fall to the ground. The teammate was eventually restrained after some further barking. (See video of the exchange below.)

On Sunday, DeRozan owned up for his part in the fracas on Twitter. "I want to apologize for my actions at the Drew League today," DeRozan said. "I got caught up in the Heat of the moment, but should've handled it better."

He also expressed his appreciation towards the Drew League. "Shout out to the Drew League for providing a great atmosphere for basketball," DeRozan said. "Appreciate the opportunity to play there!"

The incident comes just days after Minnesota Timberwolves forward Michael Beasley pushed a fan in the face at a New York City streetball game and Los Angeles Lakers forward Matt Barnes punched an opponent in a San Francisco pro-am game.

DeRozan averaged 17.2 point and 3.8 rebounds in his sophomore season for the Raptors last year.
Here's video of DeRozan being whistled for the charge courtesy of YouTube user dominator2800.



Here's video of DeRozan flinging the ball and the referee getting bodied courtesy of YouTube user timbojimbo.



Hat tip: ProBasketballTalk.com.

Posted on: July 15, 2011 1:32 pm
Edited on: July 15, 2011 2:59 pm
 

Report: Raptors putting together GM shortlist



Posted by Matt Moore


The Raptors gave President of Basketball Ops (PBO) Bryan Colangelo an extension. They've hired their new coach, Dwane Casey. Now they're targeting a GM. Though Colangelo has every intention of staying at the top of the decision-making tree, he's looking for a general manager to handle some of the work. Yahoo! reports on some of the candidates on the shortlist: 
Former New Orleans Hornets GM Jeff Bower, Philadelphia 76ers GM Ed Stefanski and San Antonio assistant GM Dennis Lindsey are three focuses of the franchise to work under Toronto president Bryan Colangelo, sources said.

No formal interviews have been conducted, sources said, but Colangelo has started the process of getting permission from teams to talk to candidates. It may not be until August that Colangelo starts formal interviews for the job.
via Raptors look at GM candidates - NBA - Yahoo! Sports.

Stefanski is an interesting inclusion because it serves as an indication that the relationship between Stefanski and PBO Rod Thorn for the Sixers may not be as smooth as it was initially believed to be when Thorn joined the Sixers last year. If the Raptors believe Stefanski's available, especially for what is essentially a toothless position, it calls into question where Stefanski sits in the Sixers organization. 

Lindsey is part of the Buford-Popovich tree and therefore difficult to argue against. Bower is another interesting case because of the politics and history behind his departure from New Orleans. Bower made some brilliant moves in New Orleans, but also chose too many veteran long contracts. Being associated with a team that wound up having to be bought by the league isn't great, either. 

It'll be important to watch how the relationship between the new GM and Colangelo is managed. Colangelo will be fighting to keep power, but if this is a directive from Raptors ownership as part of his extension, it could be a dynamic relationship with complicated effects. 

Posted on: July 11, 2011 1:03 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 1:55 pm
 

Valanciunas shows off in FIBA under-19 games

Posted by Royce Young



It wasn't against Dwight Howard or Tyson Chandler. Heck, it wasn't even against Joel Anthony or Ronny Turiaf. But despite qualifiers, Toronto's first-round pick Jonas Valanciunas absolutely dominated in the FIBA under-19 World Championships.

Not only did Valanciunas lead Lithuania to gold in the U19 games (the U.S. finished fifth), he was easily the tournament's best player. The Raptors new center averaged 23.0 points, 13.9 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per game to go with 59 percent shooting from the field and 81.1 percent from the free throw line. He put a bow on his wonderful tournament with a 36-point, eight-rebound and three-block effort in the gold medal game.

Somewhere, Bryan Colangelo is probably just a little bit excited.

But it wasn't just about the numbers against non-NBA players. That stuff is nice, but there's a lot more in play if Valanciunas -- the most intriguing player in this year's draft -- is going to become an NBA force. Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Star saw a little more from Valanciunas.
He showed just about everything the Raptors were hoping for when they picked him fifth overall.

In addition to the gaudy numbers, Valanciunas displayed a genuine love for the game and an intensity and desire to get results at both ends. He showed good fluidity and bounce and kept his foul rate — one of his main weaknesses — mostly under control. He played every minute of the final and looked like he could have kept going, instead bolting around the gym and playing to the many Lithuanian fans in the building before accepting his MVP and championship trophies.

Like I said, the numbers and stats are one thing, but the intangibles that makes an effective NBA players are equally important. You hear words like "motor" and "upside" tossed around a lot and in most cases, they don't mean anything. But stuff like hearing a guy is committed and passionate are good any way you shake them.

Valanciunas will be Lithuania's backup center on the team that will host the Eurobasket tournament in August and September. There, we'll all get a little better taste of what he's capable of as Turkey is in Lithuania's group which features Chicago's defensive stud Omer Asik. Put up 36 points and eight rebounds against Asik and that'll catch some real attention. 

Regardless of perspective, it's hard not to at least take notice of what Valanciunas accomplished as the tournament's MVP. He's probably not NBA ready in terms of walking on to the floor and competing as a starter from day one in Toronto. He's still extremely young and needs to fill our his lanky 6-11 frame. But dominating against your age group and handling top prospects from the United States as well as the rest of the world is something to at least notice.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com