Nobody asks extra of Fred VanVleet than Fred VanVleet and, in some odd approach, that may be contributing to what’s been a somewhat up-and-down season for the Toronto Raptors guard.
Coming off a breakout season in 2017-18, and with a brand new $18-million contract as his reward, VanVleet put all types of expectations on himself.
“That’s a little bit little bit of the issue,” he stated. “You wish to take large leaps yearly and, as nice a 12 months as I had final 12 months, my function actually hasn’t modified that a lot this 12 months by way of what I imply to this workforce.
“Naturally you wish to do extra and rating extra and play extra and do all of these issues, and I’ve had these alternatives with guys resting and accidents and stuff, having the ability to begin. (I’ve) simply received to be affected person, be affected person, proceed to handle expectations and profit from these alternatives if you’re on the market.”
It’s not that VanVleet has been a stiff. He stays one of many workforce’s finest man-on-man defenders and three-point shooters. He blends seamlessly with Kyle Lowry or Delon Wright or he can lead the offence on his personal. He has began 20 of the Raptors’ 50 video games and has averaged about 27 minute an evening, up from 20 final season. It’s scary for followers to assume the place the workforce may be with out him.
Nonetheless, he has battled a collection of nagging, lingering accidents and is capturing about 36 per cent from three-point vary after capturing 41 per cent final season. He hasn’t actually had a 15- or 20-game stretch the place he’s been persistently above common.
“I believe that offensively this 12 months has been a little bit irritating from the standpoint of I at all times attempt to be a man who lets the sport come to you and, with everyone making an attempt to determine all of it out directly, generally it doesn’t come to you in any respect,” he stated. “There’s video games the place you don’t rating otherwise you miss the three or 4 or 5 photographs that you just get. These are the bumps and the pissed off nights that you’ve got but it surely’s a protracted season, you’ve received to stick with it.”
He may most likely use a time off or two however others are forward of him in that Raptors pecking order.
The well being is factor that’s hardest to take care of. VanVleet missed 4 video games with a sprained large toe, one other with a sore again and one other with a foul thigh bruise. Each time he appears to be as wholesome as an NBA participant may be as soon as a season begins, there’s some setback.
“Yeah, I’m good, I’m at 100 (per cent),” he joked after Tuesday’s win over the Sacramento Kings. “.Truthfully, I’m all proper to play, and that’s all that issues. I’m not a man who’s going to make excuses. It’s been ups and downs.
“There are days I really feel nice and others after I really feel like I’ve been hit by a automotive. However that’s the NBA. No person is 100 per cent wholesome, however you’ve received to be knowledgeable and take care of your physique on the times in between. Simply attempt to be a greater model of your self that day and go on the market and lay it on the road. Barring something main, I’ll be on the market scratching and clawing and giving all of it I’ve received.”
Doug Smith is a sports activities reporter based mostly in Toronto. Comply with him on Twitter: @smithraps