Jonas Valanciunas conducts a postgame radio interview

Off the Court 2021-22: Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas

When he was asked to list one thing fans might be surprised to know about him, New Orleans center Jonas Valanciunas noted that he’s a lowkey, laidback kind of guy away from basketball. On the floor, Valanciunas has surprised many by leading the NBA in three-point percentage for a chunk of the early part of 2021-22. The native of Lithuania discussed his background and his thoughts on his country’s Sabonis family with Pelicans.com:

How he chose his current uniform number of 17: “I started playing professionally when I was 17 years old. I remember the guys asking which number I’m going to be. I just picked 17. It’s not really that common and looks unique, so I picked it.”

One thing fans might be surprised to know about him: “Well, I’m a new guy here, so they’re going to be really surprised about me! [smiles] I’m a really chill guy. I like to be with my group of people. I’m not really loud and flashy. I’m a chill person and a good-hearted guy.”

Pregame ritual: “I try to do everything in order. Putting the uniform on a certain way, tying shoes a certain way. Everything has to be the same.”

First job: “Being an athlete.”

Favorite athlete as a kid: “(Lithuanian basketball legend and former NBA center) Arvydas Sabonis.”

What he’d be doing if he weren’t an NBA player: “I’d be the President of Lithuania.”

Closest friends currently playing on other NBA teams: “(Indiana Pacers forward/center) Domantas Sabonis. Every team you play for, you meet new friends. Over my 10 years, I’ve met a lot of good people and made a lot of good friends.”

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