With the fifth pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, the Toronto Raptors selected Lithuanian big man Jonas Valanciunas.
Valanciunas played for Lithuanian side BC Lietuvos Rytas, based in Vilnius, for the 2010-11 season. He turned 19 in May, and fought fears of a sticky buyout situation in the entire 2011 draft run-up. He's considered a tough, defensive-minded center who should be a strong rebounder right out of the gate. But his offensive repertoire remains a work in progress, and he can't be expected to score much from Day 1, assuming he enters the NBA in 2011. Lithuania has a record of solid NBA men, including Zydrunas Ilgauskas and the great Arvydas Sabonis (who spent his prime playing for European clubs but did do time with the Blazers). The only current Lithuanian in the NBA is the Raptors' Linas Kleiza; Valanciunas' countryman Donatas Motiejunas should be picked in the middle of the first round in this draft.
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