New Orleans Pelicans: Where does Jonas Valanciunas rank among NBA centers?

Jonas Valanciunas #17 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Jonas Valanciunas #17 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Not much has gone right for the New Orleans Pelicans so far this season, as their star Zion Williamson is still on the bench with an injury and they have the worst record in the NBA.

There have been a few things to get excited about. The players seem to be buying into coach Willie Green’s new culture, which is a good sign for the future.

Rookie Herb Jones has been a standout so far, earning a spot on the Kia Rookie Ladder after paying lockdown defense all over the court.

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But the biggest positive amidst all the negativity has been Jonas Valanciunas, who has played even better than expected and is putting up the best numbers of his career.

So where does Valanciunas rank among centers in the NBA right now? Let’s take a look at the numbers.

New Orleans Pelicans: Jonas Valanciunas is playing like a top-5 center

If you take a quick look at the numbers, there aren’t too many centers in the NBA putting up the kind of all-around numbers that Valanciunas is notching right now, and the ones that are are all MVP candidates.

Here is where Jonas Valanciunas ranks in different categories:

  • His 19.2 points per game ranks 8th among NBA centers and is the highest average of his career. Anthony Davis leads the pack at 25.4 points per game.
  • Valanciunas is 2nd among centers in rebounding at 14.1 per game, trailing only Rudy Gobert who has been a monster to start the season.
  • JV’s 53.3 percent shooting from 3-point range ranks 1st among centers (not counting those who have only taken 1-2 total).
  • His 90.2 percent from the free-throw line is 1st among centers who average at least three attempts per game.
  • Valanciunas is 13th in assists among centers, a number that would be higher if his teammates could knock down shots, as he is averaging 4.6 potential assists per game.
  • While he is only 25th in blocked shots, he is still averaging more than one per game, tied for highest of his career.

You’d be hard pressed to find a center doing more for his team right now than Jonas Valanciunas is doing for the New Orleans Pelicans, and the ones that are will be on the MVP ballots this season.

Once Zion Williamson returns, the Pels are going to have a front court that will brutalize most teams and I look forward to seeing the two of them dominating together.

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