The Toronto Raptors had very little to lean on in a season that didn’t even see them so much as dribble a basketball north of the border. One of the few players that can be absolved of a good chunk of the blame is point guard Fred VanVleet, who continued to bet on himself and improve his offensive output.
VanVleet was trusted with a ton of offensive responsibility, both thanks to his four-year contract that made him a key starter and the fact that he might have to take over the point guard spot if Kyle Lowry ends up leaving in free agency.
VanVleet averaged 19.6 points per game, and he took over many a game with his ability to wake up from beyond the arc and hit clutch shots. We knew this about him coming into the season, but he stepped on the accelerator.
How did his season look when the totality of his accomplishments are analyzed? Like many players on this team, it gets complicated, as VanVleet has some concerning lows to go along with his highs.
How did Fred VanVleet perform for the Toronto Raptors?
VanVleet set a new career-high in points per game, losing out to Pascal Siakam with regards to the overall team lead. His 54-point performance against the Orlando Magic set a new franchise record, and it underscored why he has been entrusted with such responsibility.
VanVleet’s playmaking was as sharp as usual, as his 6.3 assists per game despite shooting more with less talent around him go to show. Still able to pick the opponent’s pocket for a timely steal, VanVleet was one of the few Raptors this season who didn’t completely turn their brains off in the clutch.
There were some negatives VanVleet needs to iron out before he returns to action. His defense started to ebb away, as he posted the worst defensive rating of his career at 113. His shooting was the big bugaboo, as he made just under 39% of his shots. In the modern NBA, a lead guard making 39% of his shots and 36.5% of his 3-point attempts is not a sustainable model.
Ultimately, despite his inefficiencies that should have the Raptors somewhat concerned about his future, VanVleet proved his contract to be a bargain, as he is continuing his climb to the top of the hypothetical NBA guard totem pole.
While he didn’t earn an A grade because of how ice-cold he ended up from the field at times, VanVleet gets solid marks for everything else.