Fred VanVleet was the only Toronto Raptors player to appear in the first round of voting for the 2022 All-Star Game, but fans shouldn’t be surprised or upset.
Thursday saw the NBA release the first fan vote returns for the 2022 All-Star Game, with plenty to discuss. From a Toronto Raptors perspective, what stood out was the lack of attention.
Fred VanVleet was the only Raptors player to rank among the top vote-getters in the Eastern Conference. Further, he only just made the cut, as he ranked 10th in the top-10 for votes among guards:
VanVleet is having an excellent season in Toronto, with him on course to set career-highs for average points, assists, total rebounds and field goal percentage per game. In terms of his votes — or lack thereof — it is important to consider how he has performed in comparison to his peers.
Entering Friday’s NBA action, the 27-year-old ranks 19th overall with 21.3 points per contest, while tying for 13th overall with 6.7 assists. Further, he is 13th in total steals (52) and an impressive third in three-pointers made (118).
However, the lack of attention for VanVleet and the Raptors in general should come as no surprise. It is par the course when it comes to playing for the only NBA team in Canada.
Further, the Raptors are an underrated roster with no superstars, a la, a Vince Carter or Kawhi Leonard. If nothing else, fans should take solace in their team flying under the radar, but still performing well of late and sitting in a playoff position in the Eastern Conference.
Another reason for Toronto fans to take the voting results with a pinch of salt, comes when you consider some of the other names featured. More specifically, Kyrie Irving and Klay Thompson; Irving has only just returned to action, while Thompson is yet to play.
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This only serves to highlight that the NBA All-Star Game is little more than a popularity contest. This is why the NBA moved away from only fans voting in the starters; now, fans account for 50 percent of votes, while the players and media account for 25 percent each.
The next round of fan voting will be revealed on Jan. 13, and concludes on Jan. 22. The All-Star Game will take place in Cleveland on Feb. 20.
At this stage, the best opportunity for VanVleet to make it to the All-Star Game appears to be as a reserve. Each NBA head coach picks seven players from their conference, with the exception of anyone from his own team.
VanVleet is certainly deserving of being selected for his first ever NBA All-Star Game appearance, but it isn’t the worst thing in the world if he doesn’t make it. Instead, along with the rest of his teammates, he can use it as motivation to show the rest of the league they should take the Toronto Raptors more seriously.
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What is your opinion of the All-Star voting so far this season? Which — if any — Toronto Raptors players do you predict will play in Cleveland? Let us know in the comments section below.