About the only thing Toronto Raptors starting center Jonas Valanciunas has struggled with in the NBA is getting quicker and it seems like every year he is trying something to work on that aspect of his game. This year the team’s white-haired guru Alex McKechnie introduced Valanciunas to boxing to see if this heavy-weight could learn to “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee” or maybe just find a way to squeeze out a few more minutes on the court during games.
“Alex brought a boxing guy here to try, just like a warm-up during the preseason, so I tried it, I liked it, so why shouldn’t I continue?” Valanciunas told Pro Bball Report. “Be quick on you feet, be light, be quick, that takes a lot of energy.”
The 24-year-old in his fifth NBA season is effective in the post, usually dominates single coverage and has become an elite rebounder, but the game has been changing for a while. There are fewer physically imposing big men like himself and more bigs that make their living on the perimeter or with jack-rabbit like quickness and hops. Valanciunas, like most young players in the league, has discovered the training and conditioning needed to dominate in the NBA is at a whole other level and boxing gives him that.
“It takes a lot of conditioning to be able to box for 12 rounds three minutes,” Valanciunas continued. “I was trying to do it, not boxing just hitting the coach, for 12 rounds and couldn’t do it. It’s so tough on everywhere.
“Still a long way to go, it’s not easy stuff. It’s not like you go there and you are a boxer. I find this stuff helps me with footwork, being live on my feet and quickness.”
Perhaps the best part is the big man has found himself a training tool that should improve his quickness that he really enjoys doing. That’s a regime that is going to produce results.
“I like it,” Valanciunas said. “It takes some adrenaline. You feel good after punching the bag.
“If you have something going on in your mind, you go to the boxing gym and punch the bag for half an hour and you’re good. Come back home easy, relaxed, nothing going on in the head.”
Boxing for Valanciunas sounds like a winning training program.
Featured image courtesy of Larry Millson