Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas attempted a total of five three-pointers in his first five seasons, making just one shot.
If you weren’t following him this season, you’d be surprised to learn he took a career-high four three-point attempts when his team faced the Detroit Pistons last night.
But with just one three-pointer made, it wasn’t an impressive night — especially considering Valanciunas had been the most efficient player on jump shots from three-point range (minimum: 30 possessions) this season, per Synergy Sports.
The big man was averaging 1.46 points per possession before his appearance on Wednesday. Earlier this season, head coach Dwane Casey said this about the 7-footer (via Toronto Sun):
“Offensively, he’s getting that three-ball what they call ‘wet’ and ready to shoot. At some point in his career, he’s going to be able to go out there and be a lethal threat for us and really space the floor.”
Casey proved to be correct as Valanciunas was shooting 21-of-46 (45.7 percent) on catch-and-shoot three-pointers, which ranks No. 6 overall among similar-volume contributors. For the sake of comparison, Houston’s Chris Paul was 20-of-44 (45.5 percent) on this play type.
Only one player in the league who had at least as many attempts had been more accurate than Valanciunas on above the break three-pointers (45.8 percent) so far this season. All but 10 of his long-distance shots had been made from the same general area of the court.
Valanciunas was already one of the most efficient players in the post for the Raptors. Now that he has an outside game, he has been able to fool defenders with a pump fake from long distance before driving to the rim.
They need to take him seriously when he does it, too. Because if they don’t guard him (like Andre Drummond once did), he can nail the open look with ease. Toronto has 16 wins and just 3 losses when Valanciunas has had three-pointers this season.