With the 2019 NBA Finals being one of the talking points, Durant offered high praise for the Toronto Raptors young guys and in particular, sixth man and backup point guard Fred VanVleet.
“VanVleet is gonna be in the league for a long, long time. However long he wanna play, he gonna play.”@KDTrey5 shows his respect for @FredVanVleet and says he is someone young players should look to for inspiration 👀
– Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) October 8, 2019
“People don’t watch regular season basketball, I guess,” Durant stated when asked if he was surprised at how well the Raptors’ young guys and role players played in the playoffs and Finals.
“We’ve known about VanVleet since college. We all heard about (Pascal) Siakam from playing pickup games around the summer. The NBA culture is so open and everybody knows each other so you see these guys over the summer and see how much they’ve progressed over the years,” Durant continued.
But in particular, VanVleet stood out to Durant as someone who up-and-coming unheralded players should look up to.
“VanVleet is stamped to me. He’s a dog in the league and he’s going to be in the league for a long, long time.”
The compliment didn’t stop there.
“However long he wanna play he’s going to be in the league. And as an undrafted player, a lot of young guys should be looking at Fred VanVleet as an inspiration.”
The next day, VanVleet caught wind of the former MVP’s compliment and took to Twitter to make sure it didn’t go unnoticed.
– Fred VanVleet (@FredVanVleet) October 9, 2019
VanVleet earned every bit of this recognition after scoring in double figures off the bench in five out of the six NBA Finals games, including a 22-point performance to close out the Golden State Warriors in Game 6 to win the NBA title.
The Wichita State product averaged 14.0 points per game shooting 40.0% from beyond the arc in The Finals, playing well enough to earn one vote for Finals MVP.