Memphis Grizzlies

Jonas Valanciunas: Veteran centre is rewriting Memphis Grizzlies record books with recent stretch of dominance

Almost quietly, Jonas Valanciunas is putting up pretty impressive numbers in his second full season with the Memphis Grizzlies.

Through 47 games, Valanciunas is averaging 17.0 points, 12.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists, all while playing in under 28 minutes per contest. Valanciunas' 12.7 rebounds per game rank fourth in the league behind Clint Capela, Rudy Gobert and Andre Drummond. His 39 double-doubles? Third behind the MVP frontrunner in Nikola Jokic and a former MVP in Russell Westbrook.

While his performances might sometimes fly under the radar, they shouldn't. Valanciunas has been nothing but quiet of late.

In a tight loss to the Indiana Pacers Sunday, the 28-year-old finished with 34 points (on 16-for-25 shooting) and 22 rebounds (12 offensive) in 32 minutes of action. With 20 games remaining on the Grizzlies' schedule, Valanciunas is now tied for the league lead with three games with 20 or more points and 20 or more rebounds this season.

He followed that up on Monday with a 26-point, 14-rebound effort in a 101-90 win over the Chicago Bulls. Not only is Valanciunas standing out among the league's elite big men, but he's also doing his part to rewrite Memphis' record books.

Valanciunas has set a new Grizzlies franchise record by posting double-digit rebounds in each of his last 22 games. In recording his 15th straight double-double, Valanciunas passed Memphis legend, Zach Randolph, for the longest streak in the franchise's history.

Over the 15 game stretch, Valanciunas is averaging 19.2 points and 14.5 rebounds while shooting 61.1 percent from the field and 87.2 percent from the charity stripe.

Randolph, who appeared in 551 games over eight seasons with the Grizzlies, is the franchise record-holder with 10 20-point, 20-rebound double-doubles but Valanciunas is already halfway there with five 20-20 games through 135 appearances in two-and-a-half seasons with Memphis.

Of course, Valanciunas' performances are a part of a much bigger picture, as he looks to help lead the Grizzlies back to the postseason for the first time since 2017. That the team remains in the playoff picture despite being without Valanciunas' frontcourt mate in Jaren Jackson Jr. through the first four months of the season speaks to how well the team is constructed to the strengths of last year's Rookie of the Year in Ja Morant, who has made another leap in his sophomore season.

With just over a month remaining in the 2020-21 regular season, the Grizzlies are in prime position to secure a play-in spot and with Valanciunas dominating on the inside, they'll be a pain to deal with in the postseason, whether it is in the play-in tournament or the opening round.

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