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Jonas Valanciunas, Zion Williamson's best ally?

We talk a lot about CJ McCollum, Brandon Ingram or even Zion Williamson to discuss the return to form of the Pelicans, 7th in the Western Conference with a largely positive record (17v-12d). But another player retains a preponderant role in the system of Willie Green : Jonas Valanciunas.

The Lithuanian pivot has also been productive during this rise, with more than 16 points and 10 rebounds on average per game for six weeks. Despite a sometimes thankless role, in the shadow of the “Big Three” of New Orleans, Jonas Valanciunas takes real pleasure in trying to highlight Zion Williamson.

As a good teammate, “JV” tries to maximize the potential of his friend on the racket, particularly on the “pick & roll”. For him, it's an ultimate combination to make Zion Williamson unplayable.

“I just have to set a good screen, have a good angle. Next, you have to make sure that Z can go into the paint. When it gets there, it becomes indefensible. So my job is to set a screen, move to the right angle. If I do that, it's two points.”, did he declareadding that his goal was for the defender to be forced to go behind the screen. “They go under the screens on Zion, it's no secret. You have to have the right angle, so that he has a clear path to drive towards the circle.”

Zion's finishing and passing qualities highlighted

The weapon becomes fatal to the extent that it frees up space to allow Zion Williamson to finish near the circle using its physical impact, but it can also highlight the screen setter, Jonas Valanciunas in occurrence if the defense decides to “switch”.

“If the opposing defense starts to switch, setting a good screen makes you play a little for yourself too. Because half the time, you're going to find yourself open too. And he is very good at finding the open player. The one who will “roll” or the one who will be open in the corner. He's a good passer.” he added.

The return of Zion Williamson has in any case given new ambition to the Pelicans, who can hope to qualify for the playoffs without going through the “play-in” box, where they failed last season.

“We are moving in the right direction. We still have some things to fix, but I think we are on the right track. Many factors come into play. Keeping everyone healthy, keeping the right mindset. But we are on the right track,” continued Jonas Valanciunas, who thrives in his role as lieutenant, which remains the most important. ” I like playing basketball. It may seem simple, but it brings a lot of joy. And winning the matches brings even more.”

Jonas Valanciunas Percentage Rebounds
Season Team MJ Min Shots 3pts L.F. Off Def Early Pd Party Int Bp Ct Pts
2012-13 TOR 62 24 55.6 0.0 78.9 2.0 4.1 6.0 0.7 3.0 0.3 1.5 1.3 8.9
2013-14 TOR 81 28 53.1 0.0 76.2 2.8 6.0 8.8 0.7 3.1 0.3 1.7 0.9 11.3
2014-15 TOR 80 26 57.2 0.0 78.6 2.7 6.0 8.7 0.5 2.8 0.4 1.4 1.2 12.0
2015-16 TOR 60 26 56.5 0.0 76.1 3.1 6.1 9.1 0.7 2.6 0.4 1.4 1.3 12.8
2016-17 TOR 80 26 55.7 50.0 81.1 2.8 6.7 9.5 0.7 2.7 0.5 1.3 0.8 12.0
2017-18 TOR 77 22 56.8 40.5 80.6 2.4 6.2 8.6 1.1 2.5 0.4 1.5 0.9 12.7
2018-19 * All Teams 49 22 55.9 29.2 79.5 2.2 6.4 8.6 1.4 3.0 0.4 1.8 1.1 15.6
2018-19 * TOR 30 19 57.5 30.0 81.9 1.8 5.4 7.2 1.0 2.7 0.4 1.3 0.8 12.8
2018-19 * SAME 19 28 54.5 27.8 76.9 2.7 8.0 10.7 2.2 3.4 0.3 2.7 1.6 20.0
2019-20 SAME 70 26 58.5 35.2 74.0 3.0 8.2 11.3 1.9 2.6 0.4 1.8 1.1 14.9
2020-21 SAME 62 28 59.2 36.8 77.3 4.1 8.4 12.5 1.8 2.9 0.6 1.6 0.9 17.1
2021-22 NOP 74 30 54.4 36.1 82.0 3.1 8.3 11.4 2.6 3.3 0.6 2.4 0.8 17.8
2022-23 NOP 79 25 54.7 34.9 82.6 2.9 7.3 10.2 1.8 3.1 0.3 2.0 0.7 14.1
2023-24 NOP 28 28 57.4 38.2 80.0 2.5 7.4 9.9 2.4 3.3 0.5 1.4 1.3 14.9
Total 802 26 56.2 35.8 78.9 2.8 6.7 9.5 1.3 2.9 0.4 1.7 1.0 13.5

How to read the stats? MJ = matches played; Min = Minutes; Shots = Successful shots / Attempted shots; 3pts = 3-points / 3-points attempted; LF = free throws made / free throws attempted; Off = offensive rebound; Def=defensive rebound; Tot = Total rebounds; Pd = assists; Fte: Personal fouls; Int = Intercepts; Bp = Lost balls; Ct: Against; Pts = Points.

SEE ALSO:  Tyrese Haliburton: “Making the game easier is like second nature” | NBA
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