This was a tough week for me when it came to choosing the “Raptor Of The Week.” Out of the four games the Toronto Raptors played, they lost three of them. They did break that three-game losing skid last night against the Orlando Magic with a 115-102 win, though, and the Raps looked good.
Aron Baynes grabbed 16 rebounds – it’s about time – and Pascal Siakam gave us his second 30-point game in a row. Solid arguments can be made for both of these players to take home the award, but Baynes has been woefully inconsistent and Pascal missed a game – automatically disqualifying him from contention (I make the rules).
The Obvious Choice
Clearly it should be Yuta Watanabe
He posted a career high in points against Sacramento, and seemingly carved out a consistent role in the Raptors bench rotation.
“But Hugh, if Watanabe is the obvious choice, why aren’t you picking him?”
Well, because I already wrote an article all about how great he is. I feel like it would just be lazy and unoriginal if I were to write about him again.
So, after long thought and consideration, the Raptor of the Week for January 25th to 31st goes to…
Let’s forget about last nights performance – his one outlier all week – and think about the positive things Fred brought to the Raptors all week .
It Starts on Defence
Over the four games this week, VanVleet had 11 steals, including back-to-back four steal games against the Milwaukee Bucks and Sacramento Kings. The combo guard fits in perfectly to Nick Nurse’s defensive system, and is a valuable contributor on the floor even when he isn’t scoring.
He even chipped in on the glass with 16 rebounds this week.
Looking at the two games where he shot particularly poorly – Sunday against the Magic and Thursday against the Bucks – he was still trusted enough to play 30 minutes and was on the court when it mattered ending the game with a plus/minus of plus-17 against Orlando.
Against Milwaukee, however, VanVleet was able to contribute in more ways than just scoring. A dismal ten points, true, but Freddy gave the Raps ten assists, four steals, and three blocks. It may be a hot take anywhere but Toronto (or Tampa, I guess) but I think the Raptors poor season could hurt the guard’s chances at getting at least an “All-Defensive Second Team” honour or even an All-Star nod.
With that being said, VanVleet’s offence wasn’t all that bad this week, either. He dropped 25 against the Pacers, shooting 40 percent on the night while he shot 44 percent against the Kings scoring 26.
Freddy has proven his value extends past simply scoring points. When his shot isn’t falling you can expect him to be doing everything else to make a positive impact for this struggling Raptors team. He has shown us that he can be a star offensively and an anchor on defence, and it is only a matter of time before the rest of the league starts to catch on.