When fans think of the 50-40-90 club, the likes of Steve Nash and Steph Curry would instantly come to mind. However, this season, a player is on track to become the elite group’s first center member. His name is Jonas Valanciunas.
Valanciunas on track to enter the 50-40-90 club
Many fans questioned the move when the New Orleans Pelicans flipped Steven Adams and replaced him with Jonas Valanciunas. The two centers are very similar in age, skillset, and experience. However, this season, Valanciunas has proved he’s more than just your average center.
According to Basketball-Reference, in 14 games, JV holds the best percentage in the three-point area in the NBA with an impressive 57.7%. On top of that, he is also shooting 50 % on his 2-point field goals and connects 90 % from the charity stripe. If anyone looked into his stats without checking the name, they would think it’s Kevin Durant or Steph Curry. The improvement in Jonas’ game is just phenomenal at this point.
Compared to last season in Memphis, he only made 36.8 % of his shots from the rainbow territory and 77 % on the free-throw line. If Valanciunas keeps this up, he will enter the conversation as the Most Improved Player at the end of the season.
What fuels the improvement?
The game is evolving, and we are seeing the next version of Valanciunas in the mold of Brook Lopez’s transformation. The two were known to be bangers, back-to-the-basket type of traditional big men, but now that the league is giving more importance to spacing and outside shots, they have adapted and suprised many.
It remains to be seen if JV can sustain this in the course of the season. He is getting the minutes because the team missed several big men due to injuries. Once the roster is fully healthy, it’s expected that Jonas will revert to his old role, which is to provide defense and crash the boards.
Joining the elite 50-40-90 club is an accomplishment for any player. It speaks of accuracy and efficiency on the floor. Even Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James, the trio many consider the GOATs, failed to crack the group. Only Dirk Nowitzki and Larry Bird were the big men to accomplish the feat in the history of the NBA.
Valanciunas proves that getting traded to a rebuilding team may not mean bad for anyone’s career. This season he’s putting up personal bests in points, rebounds, and assists, and he’s doing it at historically accurate numbers. Valanciunas has done his part holding the fort while the Pelicans await the return of Zion Williamson. When the roster is finally complete and healthy, New Orleans will be an exciting team to watch.