The remarkable rise of Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet continues. The diminutive guard is having a career year and should garner some All-Star and All-NBA conversation for his hardwood grind.
Fred VanVleet this season:
3.5 3PG (3rd in NBA)
The Raptors are outscoring opponents by 5.9 per 100 possessions with FVV on the court. Outscored by 14.6 with him off. That 20.5 net difference is 2nd in the league to Jokic. pic.twitter.com/b8t4OgybFU
— StatMuse (@statmuse) January 4, 2022
FVV has always been overlooked from his time growing up just outside of Chicago. There he led Auburn High School to a state final four while also dominating the AAU circuit. Despite his success, the undersized guard was originally only offered by two schools, Wichita State and Colorado State. Kent State and Northern Illinois arrived late to the party, hoping to land the talented guard.
VanVleet chose Wichita State, and his story is the true definition of an overachiever.
VanVleet always believed in the motto “bet on yourself.”
Bet on yourself
— Fred VanVleet (@FredVanVleet) June 24, 2016
Although never the biggest on the court, VanVleet shined. That grit and Chicago-area toughness resonates every time he took the floor.
VanVleet Becomes Three Year Starter For The Shockers
Head coach Gregg Marshall was ecstatic about landing VanVleet, a guard who was a direct extension of himself, tough and gritty. VanVleet came off the bench during his freshman season and helped lead the Shockers to the Final Four.
Wichita State Shockers, my home town college about to make their way to final 4. Nuts!
— Jeff Probst (@JeffProbst) March 31, 2013
During his sophomore season, he averaged 11.6 points, 5.4 assists, and 3.9 rebounds per game. The one thing he’s always excelled at is range shooting. In college he shot a blistering 42 percent from deep his sophomore year. His play led the Shockers to a 30-0 start, becoming the first team in NCAA history to win 30 games with no defeats during the regular season.
They entered the NCAA Tourney as the No. 1 seed in the Midwest bracket before losing to the Kentucky Wildcats in a second-round matchup. No way “Big Blue Nation” should’ve been in their bracket that early. The selection committee dropped the ball on that one big time. Witchita State finished the historic season at 35-1.
Vanvleet finished his career at Wichita State as the school’s all-time leader in assists (637), steals (225) and assists-to-turnover ratio (3.08). Shockers went 90-12 with him as the starter over three seasons, with a .882 winning percentage. The program also accumulated 63 MVC regular season conference wins over four years, going 51-3 in conference play with him as the starter those last three seasons.
VanVleet Goes Undrafted After Stellar Collegiate Career
After not being drafted in the 2016 NBA draft, FVV accepted a invitation to play on the Raptors Summer League team. He showed out and earned a roster spot with the Raps. After spending the bulk of his rookie season with the Raptors G-League affiliate, and winning a title that season, VanVleet became the primary backup to star guard Kyle Lowry during 2017-18 season.
He averaged nine points, three assists and two rebounds in 76 appearances. The diminutive guard proved he belonged on the NBA level.
VanVleet was a key contributor on the Raptors 2019 NBA Championship team, his main contribution still coming off the bench, but he filled in as starter when needed and performed admirably.
While his 11 points, five assists and three rebounds per game were a welcome sight for the Raptors, the 6-foot-1 guard’s elite shotmaking during the team’s playoff run was very much needed, as he knocked in clutch shots in every round, including against Steph Curry and the Warriors in the Finals. VanVleet’s fearlessness was a huge reason for the Raps’ upset win.
Fred VanVleet attacks and banks in the circus shot before the end of Q1! #WeTheNorth
🇺🇸: ABC 🇨🇦: TSN pic.twitter.com/4FbozTnyXW
— NBA (@NBA) June 3, 2019
VanVleet Lands Largest Deal For Undrafted Player In League History
VanVleet went from a rookie deal making $1.44 million, to a two-year $18 million extension. In his first season as the starting shooting guard in 2019-20, VanVleet averaged 18 points, while also leading the team in steals and placing second in assists behind Kyle Lowry. He eventually completed a meteoric rise, cashing in on a four-year, $85M deal, the biggest ever for an undrafted player.
Fred VanVleet’s reported $85M contract with the Raptors is the largest total value for any undrafted player in NBA history.
A record-breaking deal 💰 pic.twitter.com/q7wyHSGWQZ
— ESPN (@espn) November 21, 2020
VanVleet’s moment of truth came in a win over the Magic when he scorched Orlando for a franchise-high 54 points, shooting 11 of 14 from three.
Former Raptors teammate Kawhi Leonard lauded VanVleet’s play.
“VanVleet is just more aggressive. He’s always had game,” Leonard said. “Going both ways and shooting the basketball and he’s just getting more of an opportunity now.”
— NBA (@NBA) February 3, 2021
The accolades keep coming for FVV, who recently recorded his first triple-double to add to his championship legacy.
“I think he’s seeing things really clearly right now,” head coach Nick Nurse told reporters. “He’s handling ball really well, he’s also really strong with the ball, and being low to the ground really helps with that.”
This season FVV is averaging is 22.0 PPG, 6.7 APG and 5.0 RPG. He was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week for his play.
NBA Players of the Week for Week 12.
— NBA (@NBA) January 10, 2022
Behind FVV’s constant elevation, the Raptors are on a six-game winning streak and currently the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference at 20-17.
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