The Toronto Raptors are sitting mightily in second place in the NBA’s Eastern Conference standings.
Guided by head coach, Nick Nurse the Raptors hold a 46-18 record beyond the stellar play of All-Stars Pascal Siakam and Kyle Lowry.
But their supporting cast is just as vital: Norman Powell, Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol are anchors on that team.
So is Fred VanVleet. This season, VanVleet is averaging 17.6 points, 3.8 rebounds, 6.6 assists and 1.9 steals per contest in his first season as a full-time starter at point guard.
He’s so essential that many believe that he’ll be in high demand during the offseason.
Per Hoopshype: He’s in position to command a significant raise on his current $9.35MM salary, but reduced revenue due to the league’s hiatus figures to lessen the value of his next contract.
While many will pay attention to whether Anthony Davis and Giannis Antetokounmpo will stay with their respective teams or go elsewhere, VanVleet is a big fish in a small pond and he’s making his moves wisely.“I think about it. I’m human,” VanVleet told TSN.
“I feel like I worked myself in good position. I was having a hell of a year and I was planning on having a great playoffs to cap that off. I think I was in good shape. And I think, more so than worrying about what would’ve, could’ve, should’ve happened is more so like, what’s going to happen? Are they going to move the dates around? Does free agency move? How does it affect the cap? Those types of things are more so what I’m thinking about versus, ‘Oh, woe is me.’”
On a recent episode of the Scoop B Radio Podcast, I checked in with Yahoo Sports’ Keith Smith and discussed VanVleet and other free agents worth paying attention to.
Check out a snippet from our dialogue below:
Keith Smith on players that people should be paying attention to this offseason:
“This year’s free agent class isn’t so great. I’m going to take Anthony Davis out of the mix because I think it’s pretty clear that he’s going to stay with the Lakers. It’s really just what kind of contract does he get. So I’ll give you a couple of guys that I think might be a little more off the radar but I think people are going to really be interested in…Fred VanVleet – clearly the best free agent point guard this year. It’s not even close. I think the Raptors are in an interesting spot. They’re paying a lot of money to Kyle Lowry next season. They’ve also got Pascal and Ibaka and free agents in the playoffs and what they did in the playoffs. If they made it to the East Finals or maybe they made it back to the Finals, I think you feel a lot more comfortable spending a lot of money keeping that entire group together. But we know Masai Ujiri, he’s going to play with house money for a couple years. He’s not going to be afraid to say, ‘We won. And now it’s time to tear it down.’ And there’s a handful of teams that need point guards too. So I think he’s really going to be an interesting guy on the market. And then we got Christian Wood, the free agent from the Pistons. I think he’s a major free agent this year; big man who can play both of the power forward and center spots, he’s really extended his range, defensively he needs some work but, if you can put him next to a defensive minded big, you’ve got a guy that’s really talented and the people don’t know that his numbers didn’t total much this year because of Andre Drummond. But once he was traded, he really took off. And another guy I’ll give you a veteran free who I don’t think that gets mentioned too, too much but I think someone who could really help a lot of teams and that’s Danilo Gallinari. He’s a good scorer, good shooter, still gets to the foul line a decent amount; I think he’s a guy who – I think this might be one of those contracts for a one or two year deal for a ton of money, but for the right team he’s a guy that could really step in and help teams, go deep in the playoffs or get back to the playoffs if you’re a rebuilding squad.”