If the Raptors advance to the semis of the inaugural NBA Summer League Championship tournament, they’ll have to do it without Jonas Valanciunas.
Immediately prior to Saturday’s quarter-final matchup with the Phoenix Suns, the Raptors announced that Valanciunas sustained a sprained left index finger in Thursday’s game vs. Denver.
According to Raptors President of Basketball Operations and GM Masai Ujiri, the injury is not considered serious and Valanciunas is considered day-to-day.
Of course by sitting Valanciunas — quite possibly the MVP of the tournament through four games in Las Vegas — prior to the quarter-finals, there may not be many days left here in Las Vegas for the Raptors. But a big picture approach obviously has to factor in.
Valanciunas has averaged of 18.8 points and 10 rebounds in roughly 29 minutes per contest through four games at NBA Summer League. He is also among the tournament leaders in field goal percentage (.561) and has knocked down an eye-popping 29 of his 33 free throw attempts.
Those numbers may belie the noticeable improvement Valanciunas has made with this footwork, ability to finish with both hands, recognition of double teams, pump fakes and, of course, his frame which has allowed him to go through opponents when not going around or over them in Las Vegas.
In short, a four-game sample has made it pretty obvious what Valanciunas can do against the Summer League competition. He’s scheduled to join the Lithuanian national team soon, which is already ramping up training for September’s EuroBasket 2013 and with an increased regular season role with the Raptors looming, you have to wonder if the risk of further injury is worth it should the Raptors advance.