Toronto Raptors: How good can Fred VanVleet be next season?

Toronto Raptors - Fred VanVleet (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Fred VanVleet (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors – Fred VanVleet and Delon Wright (Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images) /

How VanVleet fits in

The Raptors biggest weapon last season was the bench mob. Fred VanVleet is the unassailable leader of that mob.

Built in the mold of Kyle Lowry, VanVleet gives the Raptors a similar, steady presence whenever Lowry leaves the floor. Toronto is confident it will receive at least 48 minutes of starter-quality point guard play, a blessing very few NBA teams have.

However, due to his aforementioned defensive limitations, there is a concern FVV may have maximized, or nearly maximized, his role. Logistically, Lowry and VanVleet can only play so many minutes together. Neither player is tall enough or explosive enough to guard shooting guards on a consistent basis.

Last season the two averaged just under seven minutes together per game. How many more minutes Nick Nurse elects to play the tandem this year will be an interesting storyline to follow.

If VanVleet doesn’t earn any more time alongside Lowry, he will have a hard time cracking much more than 20 minutes per game.

Another interesting item to watch is how VanVleet develops alongside other starters. Last season, Dwane Casey elected to run five-man bench mobs. By all accounts, Nurse will not begin the season with that same mentality.

VanVleet will need to adjust to playing alongside different and more talented teammates, a transition I believe he will be able to make relatively easily.

Overall the Raptors are lucky to have a player as talented as FVV as a backup point guard. Unfortunately, it’s unclear how much that role will expand while Kyle Lowry is still on the roster.