Should the Toronto Raptors be worried about Fred VanVleet amid slump?


The Toronto Raptors saw their playoff hopes hit a major roadblock against the Brooklyn Nets, as Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Jeff Green beat up on Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, and the rest of the squad. VanVleet was in for a very rough evening, as his poor shooting continued his subpar run of form.

VanVleet made just four of his 17 shots and three of his 12 3-point attempts. Between him and Siakam, the star tandem completely ran out of gas against the Nets. With a very difficult West Coast swing coming up, VanVleet’s playoff hopes are fading fast.

VanVleet is making just 35% of his shots in the last five games, and he has made 40% of his shots or more in just one game, which isn’t the best for an off-ball guard.

VanVleet acknowledges that his poor play is evident, and he’s blaming his body. VanVleet launched into an expletive-laden response when asked what was the reason behind his poor shooting.

Fred VanVleet has struggled for the Toronto Raptors lately.

VanVleet is shooting 39% for the season, which is making his tremendous career-high scoring average lose just a bit of luster. With Gary Trent Jr. now relegated to a bench role when healthy because Nurse thinks that VanVleet is too important to drop from the starting lineup, VanVleet won’t get to hide on the bench.

Kyle Lowry hasn’t been scoring at the same clip as he has in previous seasons, deferring to VanVleet on the offensive end. In the modern era, a lead guard shooting under 40% from the field is not acceptable, especially on a Raptors team that loves to push the pace and shoot the ball from deep as much as possible.

Why is Fred VanVleet struggling?

VanVleet did struggle with COVID-19 earlier in the season, and the effects that it has had on players like Jayson Tatum might make things even more complicated for a player that relies on speed and quickness trying to return from a hip injury.

While Raptors fans should take that into account, it’s fair to sympathize with VanVleet’s struggles and expect more from the team’s top perimeter scorer and heir to Lowry’s point guard throne in the middle of a playoff race.

With the uncertainty around Lowry coming back next season, VanVleet isn’t inspiring a ton of confidence. He will right the ship and return to his old self, but this recent stretch hasn’t been great, and it’s come at the most inopportune time.

VanVleet isn’t going anywhere, and he isn’t leaving Nick Nurse’s rotation as the playoff chase kicks into high gear. He needs to figure out whatever is going wrong with his body and shot as soon as possible. If he doesn’t, the Toronto Raptors could see their fleeting playoff hopes crash and burn before their eyes.