The New Orleans Pelicans may have reached a whole new level with Zion Williamson’s comeback, but Jonas Valanciunas’ contribution to the offence has been cut off. However, Valanciunas made his claim for a higher position in the Pelicans’ offensive hierarchy for at least one night with an outstanding scoring performance, and against the Milwaukee Bucks’ second-ranked defence no less.
Jonas Valanciunas destroyed the Bucks’ defence all night long, scoring 37 points and grabbing 18 rebounds in just 37 minutes of action while shooting 14-24 from the field and 7-10 from three-point range.
According to Andrew Lopez of ESPN, Valanciunas accomplished this feat by being the first player in NBA history to record at least 37+ points, 18+ rebounds, and 7+ three-pointers in a single game. It’s unfortunate that such a performance occurred with a 128–119 defeat.
Although those standards seem incredibly arbitrary (which, to be honest, they are), it just goes to demonstrate how many offensive tools the Pelicans have. It also demonstrates how special a player Valanciunas can be because of his ability to stretch the floor at an astonishing rate while dominating the interior.
This demonstrates that Jonas Valanciunas is still capable of bringing the heat on any given night. The fact that Larry Nance Jr. wasn’t present that night undoubtedly aided his cause, but Valanciunas is still capable of dominating in the appropriate situation. The fact that his playing time fluctuates and head coach Willie Green frequently chooses the more mobile Nance when the game is on the line is also encouraging.
Unfortunately, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez couldn’t match the Lithuanian centre’s performance. In order to help Milwaukee win, Antetokounmpo burned the nets with 42 of his own points, and Lopez, who is experiencing a professional comeback, chipped in 30 of his own.
Given that Brandon Ingram will soon be returning, Valanciunas’ explosive performance might have been a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. Despite the defeat, Pelicans supporters undoubtedly delighted in what was a beautiful outburst from their starting centre.