Valanciunas Validation

Matt Stroup
April 11, 2014
Valanciunas Validation
Matt Stroup breaks down a late-season run from Jonas Valanciunas along with some other trends in this week's Roundball Stew

Last year, after a mostly quiet rookie season, Jonas Valanciunas emerged over the final month of the year to post strong numbers down the stretch (15.1 ppg, 7.3 rpg and 1.9 bpg – 63.4 from the field, 85.4 percent from the line – in his last 14 games).

As a result, the 21-year-old came into this year carrying lofty expectations, but with the exception of a solid December (12.4 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 1.3 bpg), he’s been a disappointment.

(Dramatic pause)

Until now.

In his last eight games heading into a Friday night matchup against the Knicks, Valanciunas has posted 17.8 ppg, 10.1 rpg and 1.0 bpg, shooting 66.7 percent from the field and 81.0 percent from the line.

If you drafted him, and all of this production is coming too late to save your team, I feel your frustration. But this is one situation where I would try not to hold a grudge. To reiterate: Valanciunas is 21. In a “disappointing” second year, he’s averaging 11.2 ppg, 8.6 rpg and 0.9 bpg, shooting 53.5 percent from the field. The potential here is still pretty monstrous, and I’ll keep drafting him aggressively until he starts going berserk – which I expect to happen much earlier in the season next year.

Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $55,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Friday night's games. It's $25 to join and first prize is $7,000. Starts at 7pm ET on Friday. Here's the FanDuel link.

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Now, let's take a minute to consider some of the random and ridiculous things that have happened in NBA box scores this week:

*Travis Outlaw scored 24 points on Tuesday, his most since Nov. 2010.

*Also on Tuesday, Omer Asik and Donatas Motiejunas combined for 30 rebounds in a win over the Lakers. (Asik is now averaging 11.7 ppg, 16.7 rpg, 1.0 spg and 1.2 bpg this month.)

*On Wednesday, Indiana benched all five starters in Milwaukee, thawing out the likes of Luis Scola (24 points), Rasual Butler (10 points, 3-of-14 shooting in 30 minutes) and Donald Sloan (eight points, eight assists, 32 minutes) for a 104-102 thrill ride against the Bucks.

*Jeff Withey (17), Darius Miller (14) and Anthony Morrow (14) were the leading scorers for the Pelicans in a 94-88 loss to the Suns.

*Playing for his third team this season (Warriors, Sixers, Magic), Dewayne Dedmon started a second straight game at center for Orlando on Wednesday, posting four points with nine boards, a steal and two blocks. 

*And in a sublime turn of events for people who are nostalgic for the early- to mid-2000’s, Elton Brand went for 13 points, 13 boards, three assists, three steals and a block on the same night that Rashard Lewis posted 17 points – his most since last April.

*Then on Thursday, Timofey Mozgov unleashed 23 points, 29 rebounds (an NBA season-high for any player), three assists, a steal and three blocks against Andrew Bogut, the Warriors and an entirely unprepared Planet Earth.

*Meanwhile, among the big names already missing one or more games this week: Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Anthony Davis, Josh Smith, Rudy Gay, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade, Tony Parker, Kevin Martin, Pau Gasol, Isaiah Thomas, Nikola Vucevic, Ty Lawson, Paul Pierce, David West, David Lee, George Hill, Lance Stephenson, Roy Hibbert, Kevin Martin, Eric Gordon and Jamal Crawford.

With all of this in mind, I’m guessing that most of you, like me, have your fantasy leagues end before this last silly stretch of the season. But if you’re unhinged enough to still be playing – or if you’re playing in daily leagues – here are a few…

Last-Minute Recommendations

Kyle O’Quinn (12 percent owned in Yahoo leagues): Nikola Vucevic (Achilles) is out again on Friday, and (The Mighty) O’Quinn has averaged 11.3 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.3 spg and 3.5 bpg in his last four games.

Jeff Adrien (12 percent): 16.6 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 1.2 bpg in his last five games.

Jordan Farmar (10 percent): He may not make it through the Lakers’ four remaining games without one of his hamstrings exploding, but Farmar has some legit last-minute appeal after posting 15 points, five boards, eight assists, three steals, two blocks and two 3s in his first game back on Tuesday.

Kirk Hinrich (14 percent): He’s been surprisingly durable (hasn’t missed a game since late January), and is averaging 15.3 ppg, 4.0 apg, 1.5 spg and 2.0 3s in his last four games.

Evan Fournier (3 percent): A second-half breakout never really materialized, but Fournier has averaged 16.3 ppg and 3.7 3s (with 2.3 rpg, 3.0 apg and 0.7 spg) in his last three games.

Jerryd Bayless (7 percent): In the last four games Rajon Rondo has missed (March 12, March 17, March 31, April 5), Bayless has averaged 19.3 ppg, 4.3 apg, 0.8 spg and 4.0 3s. The Celtics play the second night of a back-to-back on Saturday.

Elliot Williams (0 percent): Hopefully there aren’t many people out there who need to go this far, but Williams has quietly been getting a look for the Sixers (last four games: 26 minutes per game), averaging 12.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.8 apg, 1.3 spg and 1.3 3s during that stretch.

30-Deep Update

The 30-team fantasy league known as 30-Deep came to a conclusion on Sunday, with yours truly taking the title over Rotoworld’s Ryan Knaus, who had some bad luck (poorly-timed injuries to Kyle Lowry and Andrew Bogut) at the same time that I was having some very good luck (most notably a 24-point, eight-rebound, 15-assist, seven-turnover extravaganza from Aaron Brooks on Sunday). Fun battling with you, Ryan. If you never want to speak to me again, I understand.