Fred VanVleet is the offensive spark plug for the Toronto Raptors and has been for the last three seasons. Fans have seen him grow from the leader of the 2017-2018 Raptors’ Bench Mob to a capable starter and contributor in the clutch. Like an assassin he uses extremely crafty moves to have his way on the court. Cool as a cucumber VanVleet is able to play a silky smooth game as he controls the pace of play.

Stay Steady

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VanVleet is a big shot taker and big shot maker and his strengths reflect that. His style of play is based around maximizing his ability to score the basketball. While he’s not the most athletic point guard he uses a variety of moves off screens in order to create space to make his shot. He also uses those same screens off-ball in order to find catch-and-shoot opportunities. In isolation he will strategically change his pace of play in order to put the defence on their back foot. He uses this as an opportunity to attack the basket or create separation. In transition sequences he will generally attack the basket himself, as he’s often the first man back. He is able to use his body to create space against larger players and, combined with his soft touch, he’s able to finish consistently among the trees.

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Defensively he’s an absolute pest. He was the main defender on Steph Curry during the 2019 finals and is able to hold his own against a majority of the point guards in the league. Part of this is due to Coach Nurse’s defensive system, keeping him in trap situations, zone defences, and passing lanes. “Steady Freddy” is a phenomenal team defender. He ranks first in deflections per game with 4.2.

During his time in Toronto VanVleet has jumped from averages of 2.9 PTS, 0.9 AST, and 1.1 REB in his rookie season to 17.6, 6.6 and 3.8 during the 2019-20 season, all of which are career-high marks. His growth is staggering and consistent.

Worst Behaviours

Fred VanVleet and DrakeVanVleet is a small guard who likes to slash to the paint. This causes problems despite his crafty skill set. His shots can be effected greatly by the defence in a clogged paint, forcing him in bad situations. The Raptors 5-out offence helps mitigate this problem. When the shots aren’t falling he can always depend on his elite 39.2% shooting from three point range.

Although he’s a great team defender, he suffers if put on an island, relying on the team’s defensive scheme, or smart fouling in order to bail him out. This is a standard problems for guards when pitted against larger forwards. With this said most other guards aren’t ranked fourth in steals (1.9 per game) like Freddy.

Altogether VanVleet covers the holes in his play well by taking calculated risks with his sly maneuvers. He really is an assassin on the court. Taking advantage of lulls in his opponent’s focus to force the issue.

Mob Ties

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Pick and pop centres and floor spacing forwards are a godsend for VanVleet. He spends a lot of time in isolation and spread pick and roll sets. The more options he has at his disposal makes each individual weapon that much better. Opponents shoot north of 50% against him from 2 point range, having a versatile defensive system is imperative.

Bet on Yourself

Fred VanVleet was not supposed to be this good. He was an un-drafted pick-up just four years ago and already he’s a key factor on a championship team. A true diamond in the rough, he is the epitome of calm, cool, and collected and makes the game seem effortless. At only 26 years-old VanVleet is just entering the prime of his career. Big things are in store for Steady Freddy, the Raptors’ ice cold assassin.

Fred VanVleet’s Stats as a Raptor (via Basketball Reference)