Just when you thought Fred VanVleet was done proving people wrong, he goes and breaks the Toronto Raptors single franchise record for points in a game with 54 against the Orlando Magic.
It was also a night that saw VanVleet set a new mark for points in a game by an undrafted player which shows how incredible his journey has been five years into his NBA career. This a player who has taken on the mantra of betting on himself when no one would.
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Safe to say, he continues to prove to the Raptors that the investment they made in him continues to be well worth it. What this performance against the Magic continues to show is that VanVleet’s commitment to playing the right way embodies everything the Raptors want in a player.
At one point in the game, VanVleet used whatever energy he had to sprint back and prevent a scoring opportunity rather than worrying about chasing a team record in points. It’s never been in his DNA to take the easy way and that was certainly the case Tuesday night.
This win could not come at a better time for the Raptors considering they have been struggling to get to .500. On top of VanVleet’s big night, Kyle Lowry casually contributed a triple-double and Norman Powell contributed 23 points in his return to the lineup.
Toronto Raptors: Fred VanVleet gets a great shoutout from DeMar DeRozan
It was no surprise to see immediately after VanVleet’s big night that DeMar DeRozan, the man who held the Raptors’ previous record, had a great response to the monumental achievement.
Of course, it’s nice to see the friendly jab DeRozan took at Lowry but the important part of the message was when he said “been telling you!” You can bet that DeRozan took VanVleet under his wing when he arrived in Toronto and played a key role in his development.
Look no further than VanVleet’s comments about DeRozan’s advocacy for mental health back in December.
"“I think that was big for him,” VanVleet said about DeRozan. “It took a lot of guts and a lot of heart to do that, and it’s something that helped me in my personal life — feeling comfortable about some of those things — and it opened my eyes to things I was ignorant about. And I think it was special for him to do that.”"
An even better moment came in the locker room after the game when the team greeted VanVleet with a celebration that was fitting for the occassion.
Obviously, you can see how uplifting that moment was for the Raptors locker room but the best part was Lowry’s speech and making it a point to highlight VanVleet’s journey and working his tail off to get to where he is.
If that doesn’t warm your heart… I’m not sure what will.
What were your thoughts on VanVleet’s night? Is this a sign of more to come? Let us know in the comments below.