Has Jakob Poeltl's addition showed the value of Fred VanVleet?

Amit Mann and Sean Woodley discuss Fred VanVleet's value to the Toronto Raptors and whether or not his future with the team is more clear after the acquisition of Jakob Poeltl. Listen to the full episode on the 'Raptors Over Everything' podcast feed.

Video Transcript

AMIT MANN: I'm surprised the fine was only $30,000. Paul George, a couple of years ago-- Josh Lewenberg pointed this out that he's had some comments about officials that weren't nearly as bad. And he got 35.


AMIT MANN: But Fred got 30. To me--

SEAN WOODLEY: Maybe it's like--

AMIT MANN: No, go ahead.

SEAN WOODLEY: It might just be like an admission by the NBA like, damn, [INTERPOSING VOICES].

AMIT MANN: That's what I was going to say. Oh, yeah, he's kind of right. That's what I'm thinking too. Anyways--

SEAN WOODLEY: Maybe we should go talk to old Benny T. over there and see what's going on.

AMIT MANN: Or Scott Foster or all of them. How about a refs-only meeting? How about that?

SEAN WOODLEY: It should be super productive, lots of agreement, lots of level-headedness. That'd be great.

AMIT MANN: Yeah. I can just see Scott Foster with his hands behind his back. I'm like, all right, here we go. Here this guy goes. OK, enough.


AMIT MANN: Enough, Scott Foster. Officials talk. He is slated to get a new contract this offseason. And do you think the acquisition--

SEAN WOODLEY: Fred, not Scott Foster?

AMIT MANN: Yeah. Scott Foster has a contract until the day he dies. Let's be honest.


AMIT MANN: He's going to be doing it.

SEAN WOODLEY: Yeah, it's with Tim Donaghy, his bookie.

AMIT MANN: Oh, you went there. You went there.

SEAN WOODLEY: Bleep that out for legal reasons if you'd like. That's fine.

AMIT MANN: No, that's OK. People got to know.

SEAN WOODLEY: Google Scott Foster, Tim Donaghy. That's all you got to do. Just Google it. It's right there for you. It's cool.

AMIT MANN: If people on ESPN are saying the exact same jokes we are, then, I mean, why can't we?


AMIT MANN: That's what I'm saying.

SEAN WOODLEY: Totally right, yeah.

AMIT MANN: Yeah. Does Jakob's presence, does it change, I guess, the value of Fred in terms of the pick and roll that they've been able to develop over the past few games, which I think has been very fruitful? I did a video about it. And some people were just like, oh, what happened against the Clippers? I mean, the plays were still there. Just the shots weren't being made. But anyway--

SEAN WOODLEY: And Kawhi Leonard nuking pick and rolls just by being Kawhi freaking Leonard is what happened in a lot of those situations.


SEAN WOODLEY: And that happens. Sometimes Kawhi is going to Kawhi as Raptors fans surely know.

AMIT MANN: Sure. And also, sometimes wrong decisions were made. Fred, a few times, was just making the wrong reads. It's like it's A or B. And he took B. And it could had been A. And then, there you go. That's basketball. Probably next time around, he's going to make the right decision.

Those are things that are part of trying to be a good pick-and-roll team. But also like you said, the spacing is not good. You mentioned Kawhi Leonard. He was the guy underneath the rim. He's going to be like, I'm going to screw everything you want to do up and watch me do it. And that's what he was doing.


AMIT MANN: But back to the question, what do you think is Fred's immediate future with this team? And when I say immediate, I mean new contract. Do you think Jakob Poeltl's acquisition, does that change Fred's future with Toronto? What are your thoughts?

SEAN WOODLEY: I mean, so I don't think Jakob's arrival changes what Fred is as a player or like-- or should change anything, right? I think what it does is amplifies all the things that I think most people probably know or most people who watch Fred VanVleet play basketball know.

It's like, oh, this guy's pretty damn good player. This guy is a very good playmaker. This guy is a pretty good table setter. This guy is a 3-point shooter who when it's going, it's massively important. And even when it's not going, the volume and the space he provides are massively important.

And now you have an actual role man for him to benefit from and to amplify all the things that he's always done well. They just weren't necessarily amplified by a team that had no actual pick-and-roll attack, that didn't really seem to know what it wanted to do on any given possession.

There's more direction now. And Fred VanVleet is the type of guy who's going to do well with direction and with purpose and with backbone sort of set plays that you can lean on. And I just-- it's really I think been a nice sort of refresher in the-- Fred VanVleet is a really damn good point guard. Is he the best point guard in the league? No. Is he a top 10 point guard in the league? Maybe not.

But I think because of what you've seen with the chemistry that you have with Jakob Poeltl, who like you said is almost assuredly going to be back next season-- because also if you look around at potential replacements for Fred VanVleet, there aren't really any unless some disgruntled stars like, get me to Toronto. There's just-- he will be the Belle of the ball and the point guard market in the free agency class. If you could keep the Belle of the ball, you do that.


SEAN WOODLEY: And there will be some people who will be like, well, addition by subtraction. Well, A, that's not really how it works, especially with a player as important as Fred VanVleet. You saw what the offense looked like when Scottie Barnes was playing point guard for those three games after the All-Star break, right? You watched those games in Detroit and Cleveland. I was in person. It was ugly. It was awful.

AMIT MANN: Oh, you went.

SEAN WOODLEY: That's as great Barnes could be.

AMIT MANN: It must have been glorious. It must have been glorious down there.

SEAN WOODLEY: The Detroit game was a blast. Cleveland, eh, well. You know.



AMIT MANN: I'm joking, though.

SEAN WOODLEY: It's-- [LAUGH] It's just Fred makes a lot of this stuff work. And this team very clearly, as much as they need center play, they need steadying point guard play as well. And when you watch the Clippers at their worst, for example, when they don't have an actual point guard, when it's all flailing, that's what the Raptors are just with worst players when they don't have Fred VanVleet out there to be their point guard.

He's a very valuable player. If you can't get a player who's as good or better than him in his spot, he has to be on the team next season if you have any designs of being acceptable and good, which they very clearly do because they traded their first-round pick. And so--

AMIT MANN: There you go.

SEAN WOODLEY: --I think Fred's back. I would be pretty surprised at this point if he's not. I'm not particularly concerned about the Magic wooing him down to Orlando to be the franchise savior. I don't even know why the Magic would do that in their current situation with Markelle Fultz even as good as he does.

AMIT MANN: They got 11 guards. They got 11 guards.

SEAN WOODLEY: Yeah. They're fine. Just roll with it, man. And the Rockets, really? You think Fred VanVleet is going to stand over watching around looking at Kevin Porter Jr. to sink every single lineup he's ever played in his entire career? Absolutely not. He feels like a Raptor. I think he's going to be here. There's no one to replace him with-- maybe there's concern about the decline physically and all of that. But very clearly, the offensive talent is still there.


SEAN WOODLEY: Maybe there's a bit of a defensive drop up. But guess what? Plenty of teams survive with point guard defense that's not all world Gary Payton in his prime level, right? That's the position you can most scheme around defensively. And I think you can make it work with Fred. He's really important. And there's no obvious replacement for him.

And you simply can't go into next season without those skills on hand. Otherwise, you're going to be in the same position you were this year just with no point guard skills instead of no center skills. And you will be a directionless husk of a team that's going to go nowhere.

AMIT MANN: Unless they just decided to replace him with Jeff Dowtin Jr.

SEAN WOODLEY: Well, duh.

AMIT MANN: That is the answer. I like Jeff. I don't want to joke on him. I enjoy watching him play basketball. Point of attack, defense, I think was--

SEAN WOODLEY: Yeah, he's good.

AMIT MANN: Yeah, he's terrific. You talk about of attack defense, Jeff's pretty good. His future is another conversation for a different day. But I think Fred's actually has been better of late. And we never understand what players are going through physically. I was talking to Scottie Barnes' manager a few weeks ago on the other "Strictly Hoops" podcast. And he said-- he just said it nonchalantly like, yeah, Scottie was injured for a little while early in the season so his defense was really bad.

Essentially, it's what he said. I'm just paraphrasing. But those are things that happen. And when we're saying, Fred doesn't look like he's moving very well, things look kind of off, he looks kind of slow, why is he limping in the third quarter? Maybe he just was hurt. And that's just how it is. I don't want to go down that path too much because if you play the games and however the person performs is what you have to critique off of. But it does seem like he has a bit more bounce to his step these days. And ask Bradley Beal--

SEAN WOODLEY: Really, since January, he's been--


SEAN WOODLEY: Let's say since the calendar turned, he's been very good. And having Jakob is just like a whole new breath of fresh air for him too.

AMIT MANN: Sure. And Bradley Beal found out that his point of attack defense ain't bad. He found out that when he decided to switch on Davis, oh, yeah, bring Fred VanVleet over here. Let me go cook on him. And it didn't go very well. So I think there has been some progression there.

SEAN WOODLEY: Bradley Beal overestimating his own abilities? No, crazy.

AMIT MANN: Bro, what I'm seeing from him in late crunch time, I couldn't believe it. I was watching the game. What was it? Against Atlanta? And Kyle Kuzma was asked about it afterwards. And he-- I mean, he was trying to be nice, I suppose, because he was asked and fairly enough. What's going on with the crunch-time offense? What's going on with the fourth-quarter offense?

And he's like, kind of what it is right now is we just let Brad do whatever he wants. And we just live with it. And Brad's making a lot of bad decisions, a lot of bad decisions. I've been actually shocked for a guy that seems very humble, very liked amongst his NBA peers, how he could be so-- for lack of a better term-- selfish in those situations. He's kind of selfish.

SEAN WOODLEY: Yeah, yeah. I just-- I've never really been a Bradley Beal guy myself. I thought John Wall was always the guy that made those teams hum when they were good. And my lasting image of Bradley Beal's career I think is going to be thinking back to all of the times he hit the 3 to cut the Wizards' deficit from 15 to 12 before mean mugging at the bench only to lose by 18 later.

That's the Bradley Beal experience to me. I'm sorry, Brad. But man, I guess that's what you get when you just decide, eh, I'm a Wizard for life, baby. You get the Wizards' ass reputation, I suppose. And it's not that he'll shake it anytime soon.

AMIT MANN: Defense is her wings. I'm not a wing.


AMIT MANN: Anyways.