It’s important not to lose sight of such a fantastic individual accomplishment from Fred
VanVleet. His 54 points was a Toronto Raptors franchise record and the most points ever scored by an undrafted player.
His eight first-half three’s was also a Raptors record and was one triple away from tying Donyell Marshall’s record of 12 in a game. He was spectacular and did it all on 23 shots, most of them coming in the catch and shoot variety, which regardless of the shot mix, is some ridiculous efficiency. VanVleet should and will get all the credit for his hard work in becoming an important piece of the Raptors core and one of the best underdog success stories in the league.
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But eventually the high of 54 resides, and we return to the reality of what the Raptors are. Fortunately, the reality is looking a lot better for Toronto after starting off 1-6. The Raptors are now 9-12, one spot out of eighth and three games out of fifth with about 50 games to go.
Even more encouraging, a previous league-worst offense now sits tied for 11th with the Washington Wizards. The defence though still has a way to go to bounce back to the top five level it was early this year, but after dropping to the 20s at one point this year, it now resides at a league-average 15th .
Their 1.6 net rating ranks 13th which is a positive indicator of the team as they are outscoring teams by 1.6 points per 100 possessions.
Toronto Raptors: Other players following Fred VanVleet’s lead on the court
The bounce-back play of Norman Powell, Pascal Siakam, and the continued surge of
Chris Boucher have really done wonders for how this team has looked over the past 10+ games, and that’s before we factor in OG Anunoby’s recent absence after a nice hot streak.
They are also getting some really good, hard played minutes from Stanley Johnson and Yuta Watanabe, who have become staples in Nick Nurse’s rotation. They are still taking the second largest percentage of their shots from three, but now hitting them at 38.5% a mark that is ranked ninth in the league.
It seems positive shooting regression has favoured the Raptors with Anunoby’s hot streak, Powell’s bounce back and VanVleet’s 11-for-14, three-point shooting night impacting that number.
No intention here to go into a deep dive on exactly how the Raptors have turned it around, but it is important to highlight that there are numbers indicating some positive signs for this team getting closer to the squad we are used to seeing from a performance stand point.
What are your thoughts on the momentum the Raptors can gain with VanVleet’s big game? Are they starting to right the ship? Let us know in the comments below.