Toronto Raptors’ center Jonas Valanciunas has been ruled out of Sunday evening’s game against the Sacramento Kings due to a left knee contusion that acted up on him during pre-game warm-ups. In his place, 2016 first-round pick Jakob Poeltl will most likely see an increase in his minutes.
Valanciunas has gotten off to a strong start in 2016, averaging 13 points and 11 rebounds per game to begin the campaign through the first five games. He scored a career-high 32 points during the team’s regular season-opener against the Detroit Pistons earlier this year. Entering his fifth season in the league, he has increased his scoring average each campaign, and to start this year, he is averaging 10 shots per game, which would be the highest of his NBA tenure as well.
The former fifth overall pick of the 2011 NBA Draft out of Utena, Lithuania, Valanciunas was a former Lithuanian Basketball League MVP in his final season before coming over to the NBA. For his four-year career entering this season, he was averaging 11.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. His coming out party began last season during Toronto’s playoff run, in which he averaged 13.8 points and 10.8 rebounds per game over the 12 games he appeared in for the Raptors.
Back in August 2015, he notably signed a four-year, $64 million contract extension to stay north of the border going forward. He joins the backcourt tandem of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan as the cornerstones of the Raptors’ future. After finishing as the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference last season, Toronto has opened the 2016-2017 year with a 4-1 record with their lone loss coming by three points at home to the team that eliminated them from the Eastern Conference Finals last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers.