The big-man renaissance of the 1990s and early-2000s is long gone, making way for the age of the guard.
Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey knows this, but he still wants more from center Jonas Valanciunas, and he's not afraid to bench him if he doesn't get it. That's demonstrated by the fact that the 24-year-old Lithuanian has only played 30 minutes or more in a game twice since Nov. 25 against the Milwaukee Bucks - an 18-game span.
"If your big guys don't dominate, you have to go small," Casey told ESPN's Zach Lowe. "I tell Jonas (Valanciunas): 'Oh, you want to play more? Then dominate. I don't want to see fadeaways over 6-8 guys. Get to the rim. Get every offensive rebound. If not, you're coming out.'"
Players like Valanciunas, who don't offer much outside of low-post scoring and rebounding, are somewhat of a dying breed. The reliance on 3-point shooting and smaller lineups has created mismatches for teams like the Bucks and Warriors, who like to run out smaller, faster lineups.
Marc Gasol and Brook Lopez have embraced the new age of outside shooting, while still being able to defend the paint, whereas players like Nikola Vucevic and Greg Monroe have been sent to the bench for not being active on both sides of the ball. Casey is clearly hoping Valanciunas can join the former group.