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Memphis Grizzlies

Jonas Valanciunas' evolution has not only helped him, it's helped the Memphis Grizzlies

In a league that's evolving and continuously moving towards pace and space, Jonas Valanciunas is not only surviving but thriving.

The Memphis Grizzlies big is in the midst of one of his best seasons. Valanciunas, who has started in every game he's appeared in this season, is averaging a double-double of 14.9 points, 11.2 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game. It's the first time the 28-year-old is averaging double figures in rebounds in his career.

For a rookie who came into the league with a rebounding percentage of 14.9, JV is now up to a career-high 22.4 percent, which ranks fourth in the league behind Andre Drummond, Hassan Whiteside and DeAndre Jordan.

Valanciunas' rebounding has been an important part of the Grizzlies' attack. Last season, Memphis had the slowest pace in the league at 97.15. Now with a pace of 103.26, the Grizz play at one of the fastest paces in the league.

And securing possessions plays a huge part in that, allowing rookie Ja Morant to get out and run and make plays like this...

And this...

Valanciunas has also made a consistent effort to extend his shooting range throughout his career. He started in Toronto - where Raptor fans likely still make jokes about opposing defenders who were fooled by the ultra-soft JV pump fake on the perimeter - and has evolved into a respectable long-range threat.

JV is shooting 36.7 percent from the perimeter this season, shooting almost one and a half per game. Valanciunas is not exactly Dirk Nowitzki from 3-point range, and no one will expect him to be as proficient, but the added range has forced opposing defences to pay more attention to him beyond the arc and that has opened up things for Memphis' offence.

If there's one criticism that stands out, it's that the best version of Jonas Valanciunas has never found a way to travel. Over the years, JV has always played better at home then he has on the road. This season is no different.

Valanciunas has played in 31 games both at home and on the road this season, and the differences are eye-popping. At home, Valanciunas boasts a net rating of plus-5.5. On the road, however, his net rating tanks to minus-4.9, according to NBA Stats.

With the season set to resume and the Grizzlies ready to dig their heels into a battle for the eighth seed, they'll soon find out which of these versions of Valanciunas they'll get.

Will JV find comfort building a routine in the Orlando bubble or will he feel like he's on a never-ending road trip?

That could be the difference in the Grizz extending their stay at the Wide World of Sports or packing their bags to return home for the offseason.

In either case, Valanciunas has certainly come a long way from the 20-year-old kid the Raptors selected fifth overall in the 2011 NBA Draft. He's thriving in the prime of his career and the Grizzlies are benefiting.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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