Imman Adan and Chris Walder discuss why Fred VanVleet is a valuable member of the Raptors' core despite some fans feeling like the All-Star guard doesn't have as much value to Toronto.
IMMAN ADAN: I did want to add something before you move onto the quiz that I have for you. And that's about Fred VanVleet. Because here, again, in Sports Canada, we're online. I see your tweets, and I'm coming after them.
Because I'm seeing some people say some crazy things, in my opinion, about Fred VanVleet and his role in this team, and whether or not he is needed (LAUGHS) on this Raptors roster. People are looking at this big, long lineup that did what it did to Trae Young, and are thinking maybe Freddie comes off the bench. Maybe you'll roll with this.
I kind of like the real protection that you get from Christian Koloko. And I'm here to tell you not to live and die by every single game. Because not every single team in the league, there aren't 28 other Atlanta Hawks. You're not going to be going up against teams that small very regularly.
That is a uniquely-built team, an oddly-built team, in my opinion, for today's NBA. But they're a rare team. Same thing with Tyrese Maxey.
There aren't like there's no Tyrese Maxey on every single team. So I think people are looking at well, you know, Brad kind of struggled against Maxey in his last game. And then look at what the Raptors are able to do without him, and are deciding that means something.
And that is not true. Fred VanVleet is still your second-best player. He is still the all-star on your team, and we saw that. We talked earlier about the Brooklyn Nets game. What did we get from that game?
We've got a brilliant performance from Pascal Siakam, and a brilliant performance by Fred VanVleet as well. Also, Fred VanVleet is such a unique guard in his ability to play with this big and long team, because he can play on ball. And when you need it, when you need a point guard to slow things down in the playoffs, when you need to set things up in the half court because the Raptors are going to need to do that.
They're not going to be playing the Philadelphia 76ers and the Atlanta Hawks every single night, who are the two worst transition defenses in the league. They're not going to be going up against those teams routinely. So they're going to need a point guard to set things up in the half court, and Fred VanVleet can do that for you.
But also, he is so great at playing off ball, which is why he matters to this team. He is your best catch-and-shoot player. He can take 10 3's a game and average over 40%. How do I know that? Because he's done that before.
He is so good at what he does, he is a perfect complement to Pascal Siakam. We know that the Pascal Siakam/Fred VanVleet pick-and-roll is an absolute deadly combo. We know that's always good for a bucket.
We know that your offense is going to stagnate at times. And you need someone who can one, do that inverted pick-and-roll with Pascal Siakam, two, be a ball handler and a playmaker. And three, catch and shoot at a great rate.
Because yes, we're seeing fantastic 3-point shooting nights from Pascal Siakam and from Scottie Barnes. But you need someone who's consistently going to be a threat from out there. Not just in catch-and-shoot situations, but pull-up situations as well.
Because you need a pull-up 3 threat in today's NBA. It's just something that every team needs. And Fred can do that for you.
He is so important to what this team does. And I just mentioned, on the offensive end, we're not even talking about defensively, and he is one of your team's best defenders. Please, please, please, do not live and die by every game.
We did this in years past with Pascal Siakam. When people discounted him, we did this in years past, with OG Anunoby. Well, people discounted him. And now we're doing it with Fred VanVleet. It's tired. It's whack. Stop doing it. That is important to what this team does. I'm so sorry. I just had a mini rant in me, that I needed to get out.
CHRIS WALDER: Hey. Good stuff, Imman. Look, I couldn't have said it better myself. I mean, essentially, the long story short with Fred VanVleet is the Toronto Raptors are not a better basketball team without one of their best players.
I think last night, obviously it was fun seeing the big lineup out there, Scottie running the point, and the way he just kind of devoured Trae Young, defensively. But Fred VanVleet-- and again, this is paired with the fact that he had probably one of, if not the worst game of his career against Philadelphia, where I believe he went 0 from 11, from the field. And Tyrese Maxey lit him up on offense.
But at the same time, you can't expect long term. Like, Fred VanVleet is going to have some duds every now and then. So is Pascal Siakam.
So is Scottie Barnes. Is that-- are we going to start changing the entire makeshift of the team because of a couple of duds, a couple of sour grapes? It doesn't work like that. The Raptors will be better off when VanVleet gets over this little nagging injury, and he gets back into the lineup.
Those big lineups will still be there. Nick Nurse is still creative in that regard. But you need Fred VanVleet to be Fred VanVleet. And you need Fred VanVleet to be on the basketball court.