All-Star Freddy

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By All Accounts, Fred VanVleet is an NBA All-Star and the Stats Back it Up

Fred VanVleet is an All-Star.

Plain and simple.

Similar to last season, VanVleet has pushed his name into legitimate All-Star considerations. Of course, south of the border, VanVleet is by no means a brand name, but a spot on the All-Star team should ultimately go to those most deserving and there are few players in the Eastern Conference as deserving as VanVleet.

The former undrafted point guard has scored at least 31-points in four of his previous five games and is averaging 21.3 points and 6.7 assists per game on the season. Moreover, he is fourth in the entire NBA in FiveThirtyEight’s RAPTOR WAR, sitting above the likes of reigning Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, and Kevin Durant. He is 13th in the league in steals per game, leads the entire NBA in deflections, while also sitting 11th in Value Over Replacement Player (VORP).

By all accounts, VanVleet is an All-Star.

“I think he’s got to be in the conversation,” said Raptors head coach Nick Nurse. “But I also say … we’ve got to climb the standings. I just think that’s part of it. Right? I just think it’s part of it. And if we do, then he certainly will deserve it. He’s been out there most of the games this year. Right? That’s another big thing. There’s been a lot of guys missing big chunks of time on a lot of teams. But I think he’s right in there. We know what he brings, he brings winning and leadership and scoring. Great defender. So he’s got to be in consideration.”

Sure, standings do of course matter for whatever reason when it comes to All-Star considerations.

Coming off of last night’s blow out victory over the San Antonio Spurs, the Raptors are now tied for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, only half a game out of the seven seed. Granted, this is an excuse any team in the league can use, but the Raptors have been decimated by injuries and COVID throughout the year and have only been at full health only for a handful of games. This is not to say that VanVleet should get some sort of exception for the Raptors poor record, but more so a reason as to why All-Star selections should focus more on a player’s performance than the team surrounding them – especially this season.

“All-star, off the rip,” said Raptors forward Justin Champagnie. “What [VanVleet] is doing is incredible, for himself and the team. He’s a big part of this team and he’s been putting on a show for everybody to see he deserves to be an all-star. Me, personally, as his teammate – not being biased – I think he deserves it, he’s been doing his thing and it’s been fun to watch, it’s fun to watch.”

As good as VanVleet was last year, his game has taken another step forward this year as he continues to assume the leadership role on what is one of the younger Raptor teams in recent memory.

Through 31 games, VanVleet is averaging career-highs for points, assists and rebounds per game. He is shooting 40.5-percent from long range, his best mark since the 2017-18 season, only he is now heaving nearly six more attempts. His true shooting and effective field goal percentages are also the best of his young career.

“He’s really the focal point guard on his own,” commented Nurse on VanVleet’s continued improvements. “Certainly, with Kyle gone, the attack was always a two-man deal. He’s had to run the team a little bit more and all those kind of things. He’s playing great. He does a lot of things well. It just isn’t scoring or assisting. He’s a great blocker outer, for example, he’s a rebounder, he runs the team, he finishes at the rim, shoots 3, mid-range stuff developing. He’s continuing to get better.”

No matter how you slice it, VanVleet is an All-Star and it will be an embarrassment for the NBA if he is somehow left off the roster.

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