Tuesday, May 30 2023

What a rollercoaster of a season it’s been for Toronto’s Fred VanVleet up to this point. He’s either been saving the Raptors with stunning performances, on trade speculation headlines, or impatiently watching the games from home as he slowly progresses from his lower back injuries.

Today, Raptor reporter Vivek Jacob announced on the team’s official website that the point and shooting guard is questionable for tonight’s clash with the New York Knicks, as he continues to struggle with his back stiffness. This past Saturday he was able to play 26 minutes into the game against the Hawks, as he produced only three points during the match, but complemented his weakened performance with six rebounds and four assists.

Unfortunately for the Raptors, it was Atlanta who took the win with an enormous Trae Young display, scoring the most points (27) and assists in the game (9).

This season Toronto has tried to limit VanVleet’s minutes as coach Nick Nurse is wary of how difficult it’s been for the guard to recover in its enterity. It all started earlier this championship as he had been pulled out of a match in December against the Los Angeles Clippers when he first felt lower back problems. After that, he was given two games to restore and finally start fully recovered for the New Year’s. It hasn’t gone as planned…

VanVleet holds franchise’s point per game record when he scored 54 against the Orlando Magic back in February 2021. Truth is, the shooting guard has struggled to show his best offensive version so far. Whether it’s been a simple slump or a back injury, he’s lost confidence in his shooting (averaging 32.5% from behind the three-point line).

As we close by the transfer deadline, numerous rumours have been circulating around VanVleet lately, speculating he might be a great asset for the Los Angeles Lakers. Although he didn’t make our Top 5 trades we expect to happen before February 9th, there’s been plenty of theorizing over this possibility.

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VanVleet has played 35 games so far, averaging 36.5 minutes a match, which is a good amount considering his current context. As for his season’s playing stats, he’s averaged 17.7 points per game (one of his lowest in recent years), 4.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game.

How should Toronto line up?

If VanVleet is unable to go Monday afternoon, the Raptors will probably need to line up Scottie Barnes as the team’s point guard. This way the substitute would get to share the responsability of conducting the ball with Pascal Siakam. As for center, it would make sense to see Precious Achiuwa step up, as for bigger backcourt roles for Malachi Flynn and Gary Trent.

Toronto face the Knicks today for a Eastern Conference showdown at Madison Square Garden in New York (2:00pm CST). The Knicks are probably favourites to win as they carry a 25-19 record in the East’s sixth place, as for the Raptors who stand 11th with a poor 19-24 track. Toronto will then follow two more games this week on the road, as they encounter the Milwaukee Bucks on January 17th and the Minnesota Timberwolves on January 19th.

Source: Basketball Insider


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