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The Rundown v110321 – Third Team’s a Charm for Valančiūnas

It sounds strange saying this about a 10 year veteran basketball player, but it appears that Jonas Valančiūnas has found a home – and his niche – in New Orleans.

Oft times called the Big Science or Lithuanian Lightning, Valančiūnas was selected No. 5 over all in the 2011 NBA Draft by the Toronto Raptors, where he spent the first seven years of his career.

In 2019, just before the trade deadline, the Raptors decided to bank their fortunes on Marc Gasol, so they swapped Valančiūnas to Memphis for the Spaniard. 

While it seemed to work out more for Gasol – as the Raptors went onto a championship – with the way the Raptors were constructed, had Valančiūnas remained, he would have earned the opportunity to celebrate an NBA championship with his long-time teammates.

Valančiūnas would average 11.8 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 0.7 assists in his seven years in Toronto. 

In the trade with Memphis, in his 2.5 seasons and 151 games as a Grizzly, he would improve to 16.4 points, 11.7 rebounds, and just under two assists a night, at 1.9 per. 

Special notes about his time in Memphis include recording 23 points and 10 rebounds in his debut against the San Antonio Spurs, then scoring a then career-high 33 points and 15 rebounds versus the Houston Rockets. Two days later, he had 23 points and career-high 24 rebounds in a 123–119 overtime loss to the Orlando Magic.

Valančiūnas also set the franchise record for defensive rebounds in a game with (23) and set a new career high with 34 points to go with 20 rebounds (11 offensive) in a win over the Phoenix Suns. It was a career-best sixth straight double-double for Valančiūnas, with the streak and his season with a Grade II right ankle sprain.*

Back in February 2020, Valančiūnas by grabbing a record 25 rebounds (6 offensive),  then grabbed 20 rebounds for the Grizzlies club record (45 rebounds) for the most rebounds in two consecutive games.**

All of this on a still-subpar roster in Memphis.

In New Orleans, Valančiūnas has led the team in scoring over the past three games – 24 versus Sacramento, 27 against the New York Knicks, and most recently versus the Phoenix Suns. While all three were losses (New Orleans is dead last in the NBA at 1-7, .125), the games arfe giving Valančiūnas to show he still has value after a decade.

This season he is averaging a career-high 19.9 points per game (his entire season average through his first 19 games as a Grizzly to finish out the 2018-19 season), 14.5 rebounds, and 2.6 assists. 

Valančiūnas is second in the NBA’s rebounding leaders this season, at that 14.5 average, just a few ticks behind Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz.

A home is a seed from which the plant of life grows and branches out into relationships … and happy memories

Here’s hoping the third team’s a charm for Jonas Valančiūnas in New Orleans, where there’s plenty room to grow and be a valued big man in the way Anthony Davis wasn’t in his time in the Big Easy.

  • – Information from Wikipedia
    ** – Information from Wikipedia


Milwaukee Bucks   117 Giannis Antetokuonmpo – 28 points

Giannis Antetokuonmpo, Thanasis Antetokuonmpo – 8 rebounds

Giannis Antetokuonmpo – 9 assists

Detroit Pistons   89 Jerami Grant – 21 points

Saddiq Bey, Trey Lyles – 7 rebounds

Killian Hayes – 4 assists

Sixers at Pistons – Thursday
Knicks at Bucks – Friday


Miami Heat   125 Tyler Herro – 25 points

Bam Adebayo – 13 rebounds

Kyle Lowry – 9 assists

Dallas Mavericks   110 Luka Doncic – 33 points

Dwight Powell – 8 rebounds

Luka Doncic – 5 assists

Mavericks at Spurs – Tonight
Celtics at Heat – Thursday


Sacramento Kings   113 Harrison Barnes – 23 points

Richaun Holmes – 10 rebounds

De’Aaron Fox – 9 assists

Utah Jazz   119 Donovan Mitchell – 36 points

Rudy Gobert – 20 rebounds

Donovan Mitchell – 6 assists

Pelicans at Kings – Tonight
Jazz at Hawks – Thursday


New Orleans Pelicans   100 Jonas Valanciunas – 23 points

Jonas Valanciunas – 14 rebounds

Devonte’ Graham – 6 assists

Phoenix Suns   112 Mikal Bridges – 22 points

Devin Booker, Jae Crowder – 8 rebounds

Chris Paul – 18 assists

Pelicans at Kings – Tonight
Rockets at Suns – Thursday


Houston Rockets   117 Christian Wood – 26 points

Christian Wood – 16 rebounds

Kevin Porter, Jr. – 8 assists

Los Angeles Lakers   119 LeBron James – 30 points

Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook – 9 rebounds

LeBron James – 10 assists

Rockets at Suns – Thursday
Thunder at Lakers – Thursday


Tracy Graven is the Senior NBA Analyst for
He has written the NBA, done NBA Radio, and appeared as a guest for the last 21+ years for HoopsWorld, Swish Magazine, HoopsHype, the Coach Scott Fields Show,, and is also tackling the NFL, NCAA, and will be pinch-hitting on some Major League Baseball coverage for BackSportsPage.
He’s spent 21 years in locker rooms in Orlando, Boise (CBA, G League), San Antonio, Phoenix, Denver, Oklahoma City, and Atlanta. 

A corporate trainer by day, he currently resides in SEC Country near Knoxville, Tennessee.
Reach him on Twitter at @RealTMoneyMedia  

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