Now that the season has come to an end for the Toronto Raptors, we’re taking the next week to grade how each key player on this season’s team performed in the playoffs, from Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam to Norman Powell and Serge Ibaka.
Next up: Fred VanVleet.
Gutsy is a great word to describe VanVleet’s 2020 NBA Playoffs run.
As we’ve seen from the Raptors guard time and time again, VanVleet isn’t afraid of any matchup or any moment, frequently coming through for his team on both sides of the ball.
As Toronto looked to keep its title defence alive, one of its biggest hurdles was finding consistency in scoring, especially in the halfcourt when teams keyed in on its transition offence. While it’s always assumed that Kyle Lowry will be one of those go-to guys, All-Star forward Pascal Siakam was expected to be the other.
When it was clear that Siakam’s rhythm was thrown off, the Raptors were able to stay afloat because of VanVleet’s production on offence.
RAPTORS REPORT CARDS: What grade did Lowry receive?
The undrafted guard sent a message in Toronto’s first game of the playoffs, letting everyone know that he was ready to be that guy if needed. He torched the Brooklyn Nets in Game 1 to set the tone for the series, erupting for 30 points and 11 assists, raining down eight 3-pointers – second-most in a single playoff game in franchise history behind Vince Carter – to lead the Raptors to a decisive win.
Freddy’s just cold, man pic.twitter.com/hL1Jq2rWzZ
– Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) August 17, 2020
Game 2 wasn’t much different – VanVleet went off for another impressive double-double of 24 points and 10 assists to get Toronto out to a commanding 2-0 lead.
VanVleet led the team in scoring with 21.3 points per game on a blistering 55.9% shooting from 3 through their first-round series, helping the Raptors complete their first playoff sweep in franchise history.
While VanVleet struggled through the first two games of the Eastern Conference Semifinals series against a much better Boston Celtics defence, he would find his stroke shortly thereafter.
Lost in all the madness that was Lowry’s jaw-dropping inbounds pass that led to OG Anunoby‘s last-second game-winner in Game 3 was VanVleet’s clutch bucket to tie the game two possessions prior.
Even Celtics centre Daniel Theis couldn’t believe Steady Freddy got that one to fall.
And don’t forget about his efforts in Game 6, either.
After scoring just four points on 0-for-6 shooting from 3 in the first half of a must-win game, VanVleet didn’t let that knock his confidence. He came out gunning in the second half, going a perfect 3-for-3 from long range to breathe a little more life into the Raptors season. He scored 16 of his 24 points from the game in the second half, giving Toronto a chance to keep its title defence alive by forcing a Game 7.
Despite coming up short in Game 7, if not for VanVleet’s efforts in pacing the Raptors’ offence, that contest could have been decided much earlier than it was. Freddy kept Toronto going when no one else could get into a groove, scoring a team-high 20 points in a low-scoring affair.
In the playoffs, VanVleet led the Raptors in both points (19.6) and assists (6.9) per game. It could potentially be the last playoff run we see from him in a Raptors uniform, as VanVleet is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
Should that be the case, it was another memorable run from Toronto’s undrafted gem.
Playoff Grade: A
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