Cleveland picks again next, and the panel, in unison agreeing that they should pick a big, discusses the validity of Jonas Valanciunas's candidacy. Jeff Van Gundy fails so hard on a pronounciation of his name that he ridicules himself, to save Stu Scott from leaving it hanging awkwardly. Nevertheless, Stu finds a way to make it awkward, leaving four seconds of dead air after an unfunny comment from Barry. I'd like to think he was doing this to show up Barry - the truth, however, seems to be that Scott cannot listen to his earpiece and talk out loud at the same time. Must Improve: Organ Synergy.
Bilas raises the debate as to how big of an issue it is that Valanciunas may not join the NBA for a year or two. This, however, is an easy answer. Valanciunas is the second best big in this draft, behind only the Turkish security guard. You certainly wait a year for him. You'd wait two. Three. Five, if he truly pans out. You wait as long as it takes for the appropriate talent. This is reinforced by how much Jonas has improved in the last two years. Two more years like that, and he'll be even better when he does come over. Executives often make short term decisions for the simple reasons that they are on short term contracts themselves, and need to win games in a results-driven industry. But Cleveland can afford to wait it out, and thus they should.
Pick 5: Toronto pick at #5, which is unfortunate. The team mocked for its president's excessive affection for European players (as well as Americans with European experience) is now looking at a draft board where the best remaining player is European. Worse still, he's a European who won't give any short term assistance to a executive who only just managed to save his job in time for this draft. In the eyes of many, they will now be damned if they do and damned if they don't. Not picking Valanciunas is a mistake, while picking him is the continuation of a cycle of flawed decision making that has held back the franchise for years.
Nevertheless, the Raptors pick Valanciunas anyway. And they were right to do so. Even if Valanciunas cannot join the NBA immediately, it is not because he doesn't want to. He is not pulling the Vazquez. These circumstances will untangle themselves eventually. Valanciunas also fits a need for the Raptors - he does not have the athleticism and defensive dominance that the long-coveted Tyson Chandler does, but you can draw a line with the two both on it. It's not a perfect comparison, but there is one. It's the right pick. A Chandler-type who doesn't panic when it's time to take a layup is a very good type indeed.
When asked by Mark Jones whether Dirk Nowitzki's success has been an influence on he and other international players, Valanciunas responds with "ummmm, he shows, like, uh, international players, can, can, did...did great job in this league, so...I hope, I hope I can, can make it." When Jones asks Valanciunas how he compares to the departed Chris Bosh, Valanciunas retorts "I don't know. I'm...I have....erm...not, not not not so strong body, so....I don't know. I..I-I-I-I-I-I-I can make faster, so, I think like this." Jones then humiliates Jonas for his bad English. I'd rather have broken disjointed forthrightness than eloquent bloviating cliches, but that's just me.