Attention Dwayne Casey, Raptors fans everywhere are wondering where Jonas Valanciunas goes every 4th quarter. At first I didn’t mind his rationale behind leaving the 22 year old Center on the bench. As a season seat holder I nearly threw up in my mouth as I watched Alexis Ajinca go off for a career high 22 pts and yet another win for the Toronto Raptors slip away in the final minutes. Who was on the bench? Jonas Valanciunas, while Amir Johnson and Tyler Hansborough were guarding two legitimate Centers in Omar Asik and Alexis Ajinca.
It’s situations like that where I lose faith in Dwayne Casey’s decision making skills as a head coach. He has done a phenomenal job with the pieces over the years, but he has to give Jonas Valanciunas the opportunity to put to petal to the floor. Too many nights has the game started where Valanciunas is lighting it up on the offensive end and for some reason Casey doesn’t like his defensive effort and gives a smaller guy the opportunity. Sure some of the smaller guys can move their feet quicker, but the teams defensive woes are further then Jonas not being as quick to rotate.
With such a talented big man being held back, many Toronto Raptors fans want to see Jonas Valanciunas set free! Let him learn in the fourth quarter and get better. Last season it was all about getting Jonas to stay out of foul trouble. This season it appears he has been able to control that, yet Dwayne Casey has him on an even shorter leash.
As the season has progressed, I feel like the rotation of the Toronto Raptors has been anything but consistent. We rely too heavily on the jump shot and guys like Lou Williams, Lowry and Demar to create shots off the dribble. Utilizing Jonas Valanciunas in the post for the entire game can help the Toronto Raptors dictate the play on the offensive end in crunch time where in the last game vs the Milwaukee Bucks we saw… or should I say didn’t see a bucket from the Raptors whatsoever. Sure Casey decided to stick with his bench who were rolling for the last 6-7 minutes, but maybe the squad was tired? Maybe Jonas had fresh legs and could have come in and scored a few baskets or created better spacing on the floor.
Jonas Valanciunas is posting career numbers across the board except in minutes and just shy in rebound with 8.5 compared to 8.8 a year ago. He is averaging two minutes less a game and giving the team more, yet Casey’s faith in him during crucial minutes has floundered.
In a game against Detroit, Valanciunas set a career high with 31 points and 12 rebounds while shooting 14/15 from the field. The Toronto Raptors blew this game and lost 114 – 111. Guess who was on the bench in crunch time? Dwayne Casey’s Logic is anything but logical.
If this team doesn’t make the second round and Jonas is left on the bench, I wouldn’t be surprised if Masai Ujiri looks to bring in a new head coach. A similar situation to Golden State making a head coaching change and relieving Mark Jackson of his duties to bring in Steve Kerr. Sometimes personal changes need to be made in order for a team to grow. We have some great personnel on the team, but similar to when Sam Mitchell started benching players that weren’t responding, you wonder how long before the team chemistry starts to dwindle also. We are seeing guys like James Johnson just sitting on the bench.
Casey needs to find a rotation and stick with it before he destroys the locker room.
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