Memphis Grizzlies

Jonas Valanciunas continues strong play with season-high 27 points in win over Utah Jazz

Jonas Valanciunas [NBA Getty Images]

You may not have heard, but Jonas Valanciunas has been playing very well for the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Lithuanian centre was dominant in the Grizzlies' 114-104 victory over the Utah Jazz on Friday, scoring a season-high 27 points.

It topped the big man's 26-point performance on Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers as a member of the Toronto Raptors earlier this season.

The former No. 5 overall pick of the 2011 NBA Draft also had seven rebounds, two assists and shot an efficient 12-for-17 from the field on his way to a plus-15 plus/minus - the best in tonight's contest.

Valanciunas has been successful in his time with Memphis thus far. He's averaging 19.2 points on 61.5 percent shooting from the field and 33.3 percent from 3-point range, as well as 8.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.1 blocks per game, with five double-doubles through nine games.

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The Grizzlies are 4-5 in those nine games but have been significantly better when Valanciunas is in action.

When the former Raptors centre is on the court, they have an offensive rating of 110.3 and a defensive rating of 103.8. When he's off the court, those numbers change to 102.3 and 105.8, respectively, for a net rating of plus-6.5 when he is on the court and minus-3.5 when he's off the court.

For those of you counting back home - that's a 10.0 point swing with Valanciunas on the floor.

This season, the Grizzlies have an offensive rating of 104.3, tied with the Chicago Bulls for the worst in the league. In the small sample size with Valanciunas on the court, that offensive rating number has them flirting with top-10 in the league.

While obviously a nine-game sample size does not mean that Valanciunas makes the Grizzlies a top-10 offence in the league, it does prove his value to Memphis going forward.

He has even had a positive impact on the locker room as a veteran leader - just ask second-year forward Ivan Rabb.

The Marc Gasol trade may work out for both parties in the long run if Valanciunas can keep this up.

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