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More Questions Than Answers

Valanciunas has a buyout issue with his European club and might not be able to play next season.

Bryan Colangelo needed to make the safe play in order to appease his critics. He didn’t. That wouldn’t be his style.

Instead he chose the 6’11, 240 pound Lithuanian center with a name that Jeff Van Gundy didn’t even bother trying to learn – Jonas Valanciunas (pronounced Val-en-choo-niss).

All reports leading up to the draft had the Cavs favouring Valanciunas with the #4 pick. San Antonio made a late push dangling Tony Parker for a chance to get into the lottery to snap up Valanciunas. None of the lottery teams bit and instead the Spurs traded backup guard George Hill to the Pacers for another name tied to the Raptors all draft in Kawhi Leonard.

However, when the Cavs chose Brampton native Tristan Thompson with the #4 pick there was a sense in the air that the Raptors would follow up with a similar surprise. When David Stern stepped to the podium Raptors fans wanted to hear the name Brandon Knight. A lot expected to hear the name Bismack Biyombo. A very select few expected to hear Jonas Valanciunas. The rest of the Raptor faithful scurried to ironically tweet their anger and seemed to collectively shake their heads that Bryan Colangelo had selected another soft euro.

The questions began to rain down:

Is this guy strong enough to play Center? – Valanciunas doesn’t believe so right now.

Will he even be able to play next season?

The Raptors are drafting another big? What happens to Andrea Bargnani – we aren’t going to trade him???

What is this guy’s ceiling? Is he really anything like Big Z?

And unfortunately for Bryan Colangelo the answers won’t come soon enough. Colangelo has two years to get this team on the right track and part of that process came with this selection. By not making the safe pick Colangelo has hammered one nail into his own coffin.

Brandon Knight fell to the Pistons at #8 (and he certainly wasn’t happy about that). Raptors fans saw him as a long-term solution to the point guard problem in Toronto but apparently Colangelo, and quite a few other teams, didn’t. Knight is going to have a good rookie season in Detroit and Raptors fans will curse Colangelo like they did when Brandon Jennings went off for 55 points and completed a rather solid rookie season himself. At that time fans were upset that Colangelo passed on him but how many would now trade Jennings for Derozan?

The point of this exercise is that none of us know how Valanciunas will turn out. He might end up being a better player than Knight or Biyombo or Kemba Walker. If he does, Bryan Colangelo might not even be around to see it. Colangelo needed to make the safe pick to most likely save his job, but he made the choice that he thought would give the Raptors the best chance to win an NBA title in the future. It’s honourable, risky, and probably stupid. More questions than answers – that’s what it’s like being a Raptors fan.

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