A longtime raptors fan here.
I'm here to give you my complete 2 cents on JV and this deal.
First off about JV and what you're getting.
Reading through your comments, I see that most of you don't think very highly of JV, so I think you'll be a little surprised.
JV is very good and has been improving every year, adapting to the new NBA trends on the fly.
The perception of him being slow and bad on defense comes from his early years, when the old management and coaching staff made bad decisions when it comes to his developpement. He came into the league as a quick footed, springy 7 footer who had immediate skills as a pick&roll finisher and some decent post-up skills. As a 19 year old rookie he had some trouble against big, strong 5's and the staff made him bulk up and gain weight over his first 2 off-seasons. With each year, he came in stronger but also a lot slower and in that same third year the league clearly started to shift towards small-ball linups. JV became very limited on the defensive end, although his offense was good enough to keep him in the starting line-up. From his year 4, the management started trimming JV down and make him quicker on his feet again. It was a slow process, but since last season he's been much more light footed and very well coordinated on his feet.
He added the 3 pointer to his arsenal, shooting 40% last and 30% this year from deep. Over the last couple of years he's become an elite defender at the rim and in the post and a passable defender to good defender in the pick&roll. Where he struggles most defensiveley is againts elite 3 point shooting 5's. But he makes up for that with his elite rebounding on both ends and his off the charts efficiency on the offense.
He's elite in the pick&roll finish, sets massive screens for the ball handler freeing up enourmous amounts of space without fouling, he's a very good mid-range shooter and can knock down the occassional open 3. He's elite in the post and around the rim where he has a very soft touch and finishes with either hand. He's also drawing quite a lot of fouls on pick&roll situations and his strong play with the back to the basket. Him shooting over 80% from the the free-throw line for his career, he's been difficult to handle in the paint for opposing bigs.
His defensive rating has improved every year and this year he had an impressive defensive rating of 101.3 (marc is at 105) per NBA/stats.
He's been as light footed and quick as he's ever been. Last year and this year, I've seen more point guards dribbling the ball out of the lane than trying to finish over him. This is mainly because of his improved foot speed but also because of his improved timing due to experience.
On the offensive end he's been dominant, wether he played as a starter or coming off the bench (JV coming off the bench was more about reviving Ibaka than putting JV into the closet. Ibaka has been very good as a starting 5. He wasn't any good as a starting 4 and not very good as a centre off the bench). What's most encouraging with JV is that he's a big time game player. He always plays best against other elite bigs and becomes another monster all-together in the playoffs. Over the last 3 years he's absolutely outplayed guys like Joel Embid, Whiteside, Drummond, Cousins, Anthony Davis and more. His only matchups where he inexplicably struggles have always been against Marc Gasol and Steven Adams. It's probalby because both of these guys have the strenght and skill like the rest but more importantly they have more experience and smarts which help them against JV.
- Very efficient on offense
- Efficient and smooth in post-up situations, draws lots of fouls
- 80% + free throw shooter
- Good mid-range shooter
- Can knock down the occassional 3 (can expect 35%)
- Low turnovers
- Elite in setting screens and in pick&roll action, finishes stong on very high %
- Elite rebounder and box out guy
- Always positive and high energy guy
- Ultimate team-mate mentality, you let him play 35, he'll play 35. Ask him to come off the bench for 15, he'll do that.
- Always works hard on and off the court
- Not injury prone (had no injuries that are associated with bigs), had a very unlicky injury to his hand twice in his career (both times got hit hard on his hand, resulting in a dislocated thumb). All other seasons he's played 77-80 games, sitting out a couple of games for scheduled rest.
- Struggles in pick-roll defense against elite pick-roll point guards that attack the rim (Irving, Kemba an similar)
- Struggles defenisvely in open spaces (when teams start stretching the floor with elite 3 point shooting bigs, guys like Marc Gasol, Kevin Love, Brook Lopez).
- Needs touches regularly, checks out mentally on D if not involved on offense for long stretches (at least in the past, didn't find to be the case over the last 2 seasons).
- Not the quickest or most athletic big, but has improved a lot over the last 2 years (compared to Gasol will be an upgrade).
- Hesitates sometimes with his open looks from mid-range
- Is an average to below average passer for his position, although he surprises sometimes with passes that come out of nowhere.
- Has had stamina issues in the past, but can't say now, since he lost a lot of weight.
I think you'll be pleasently surprised by JV, his smooth spin fade-away jumpers out of the post with great touch, his strenght under the rim, his rebounding on both ends, his overall offensive efficiency and improving over-all defense that has surely quite a few flaws.
He's got a very likeable personality. Very funny, always in good mood and very close to fans, never failing to say hi to nobody, always shaking hands and looking everybody in the eyes. Very down to earth kind of guy, never seeing himself as superior to anybody.
I'm sure you'll learn to love him.
On this trade
And this is where a lot of us long time Raptors fans are puzzled about this trade. Yes, Marc is a more accomplished player, but has been in decline over the last 2 years. I guess, the belief and also my hope is that the decline of Marc's play has nothing to do with his age, but him being unwilling to give his best when the franchise has no hope to play for a title. I hope he'll be good enough to make this trade a good one for THIS year.
It's obvious, Masai the Raptors GM, went all in with the hope of winning the title THIS year, as next summer Kawhi is most likely gone if we don't win and then it will be time for a rebuild. Many of us Raptors fans see this move as a sideways move. Not only because Marc and JV are comparable these days, but the fit isn't obvious.
If you plug Gasol in as a starter, I think it's fine, but you have to consider the impact it'll have on Ibaka. Is Ibaka ok with coming off the bench? Because he struggled mightily off the bench when JV was starting with the team. Ibaka can't play the 4 anymore and in the NBA of today it wouldn't make sense to play Gasol and Ibaka together anyway. So Ibaka is only good as a starting 5. But then, is Gasol gonna be OK with coming off the bench? I don't think so. So to me, this trade was like trading JV AND Ibaka for Gasol. Or trading JV for Gasol, who's not going to be happy with his role off the bench. I guess we'll have to see how this whole thing plays out, but in my opinion it would have been better for the Raptors to trade Ibaka instead of JV for Gasol. Gasol could have started and JV would continue his thing off the bench with the occassional start.
For you guys, I think it will be refreshing to see a new dude running around the court. He's passionate, plays with lots of energy, he's ver emotional and caring for wins. It's all he wants, play ball and win games. Doesn't matter if he plays 35 or 15 minutes. He gives it all, every time.
My only concern right now would be JVs transitioning from his old team to yours. He's been very loyal and invested. As I said he's very emotional and cares about winning. He can feel betrayed by the Raps and he comes to an environnement that doesn't scream win now this season. I think, he could be down on himself. He and his young family (he's married and has 2 young kids) had an established social life in Toronto, so this might be a bit difficult for him to handle right away. But we'll see. I hope to see JV being completely unleashed, playing 30+ minutes and getting ton of touches. It's something he never had in his career playing next to ball dominant players like Derozan, Rudy Gay, Kyle Lowry and a coach that was always guard orientated.
Enjoy JV and good luck to you all.