Perseverance isn’t always about winning something, but about always stretching to keep getting better at your art. Raptors’ poster boy Fred VanVleet understands this, and it is this tenacity that has gotten him this far in the league.
Just a couple of days ago, FVV signed an $85 million 4-year deal with the Raptors. This contract officially got his name in the history books because no other undrafted NBA player had ever received such a humongous confirmation.
In a recent interview, Fred agreed that the general consensus is against the idea of the Raptors bouncing back. He expressed, “I think we’re kind of headed back in the direction of where we were pre-Kawhi [Leonard], where people are overlooking us again, which is not a bad place to be in.”
Evidently, the Raptors had a twist of fate when they gave away DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl, and a protected 2019 1st-round pick to the Spurs for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. They also had a bit of luck in the NBA Finals 2020, where both Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson injured themselves to hand victory to the Raptors.
But now, the Raptors have lost Marc Gasol (Lakers) and Serge Ibaka (Clippers) and gained possession of players like Aron Baynes and Chris Boucher to strengthen their core. Still, it does not look like the same 2018-19 champion team to many.
Fred might be just three seasons old in the NBA, but his credentials show a graph that can soon make him one of the best Raptors. His average per game has improved from 8.6 points in 2017-18 to 17.6 ppg in the last season. He has also become better at defense and playmaking in the last couple of seasons. The undrafted point guard who came after playing in the G League started all the 54 games he played in 2019-20.
Not just this, Fred has shown that he can play under the post-season pressure by coming out bravely against the Bucks and Warriors in the previous season. Also, this year, he achieved a career-high average of 19.6 ppg, 4.4 boards, 6.9 assists, and 1.6 steals in the playoffs.
While talking about winning the ring or personal accolades, Fred said, “Now I’m just locked in on that next championship. That feeling of winning a championship, it trumps anything I’ve ever done in my life, in my career… So trying to chase that next championship, that’s what I’m locked in on.”
Can the Raptors produce great results playing Tampa, Florida, without a home crowd?
Get notified about breaking news and watch highlights on the go; join the Arena on NBA Hoops