Valanciunas scored 32 points (10-15 FG, 12-14 FT) and grabbed 11 rebounds in 35 minutes during Wednesday's 109-91 win over the Pistons.
It's only one game, but one can hardly be blamed for getting excited. Valanciunas is only 24 years old, and he has improved - slowly but steadily - every year he has been in the league. Perhaps the most important fantasy development here was not Valanciunas' impressive production, but rather that he accumulated 35 minutes on the court, despite the Raptors enjoying a large lead throughout the game. He has averaged 26 minutes each of the past two seasons.
Valanciunas notched nine points (2-8 FG, 5-6 FT), 12 rebounds, three assists and two blocks across 28 minutes in Wednesday's 103-92 preseason win over the Pistons.
Valanciunas hasn't averaged 28 minutes per game since the 2013-14 season, but he got back to that level Wednesday, and that could very well be the norm for him in 2016-17. The offseason departure of Bismack Biyombo leaves only rookie Jakob Poeltl and third-year man Lucas Nogueira (who has 35 career NBA appearances) as the top reserves at center, and their inexperience could prompt coach Dwane Casey to lean more heavily on Valanciunas than ever before. If that ends up materializing, the 24-year-old would have a good chance at producing career-best numbers across the board.
Valanciunas will be rested and not play in Friday's preseason tilt against the Argentinian club San Lorenzo de Almagro, Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun reports.
Valanciunas and the rest of the Raptors starters will be rested on Friday. The team is in the midst of a back-to-back and isn't looking to push any of their core players more than necessary in the preseason. Valanciunas will likely return when Toronto takes on Detroit next Wednesday.
Valanciunas put up 20 points (6-12 FG, 8-8 FT), nine rebounds and one block across 19 minutes in Monday's 108-106 preseason loss to the Nuggets.
Valanciunas was mostly a non-factor for the Lithuanian team during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, but he was dominant for the Raptors on Monday, finishing second only to Terrence Ross (23 points) in scoring for the team. With Bismack Biyombo bolting for the Magic this summer, the Raptors will break in a new backup behind Valanciunas in either Lucas Nogueira or rookie Jakob Poeltl, but that duo could struggle to see playing time on par with what Biyombo received. As a result, Valanciunas could be asked to take on more minutes this season, which would obviously be beneficial to his fantasy value.
Valanciunas (ankle) had nine points (4-4 FG, 1-2 FT) and one assist across 18 minutes during the Raptors' 116-78 loss to the Cavaliers in Wednesday's Game 5.
Valanciunas made his return to action after sitting out the last eight games due to an ankle sprain, and the big man was fairly effective during his limited minutes, most of which came in garbage time. It's unclear how much further Valanciunas will encroach on Bismack Biyombo's court time over the rest of the series, but if the Raptors fall behind again early on in Game 6, coach Dwane Casey could call upon the Lithuanian big man right away to get a more offensive-minded center on the floor.
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