Five takeaways from Toronto Raptors opening day victory over Pelicans

Toronto Raptors - Fred VanVleet (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Fred VanVleet (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors – Fred VanVleet (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

Fred VanVleet might be the best player in the NBA

You don’t want to overreact to one game, but Fred VanVleet might not only be the best player in the NBA, but he might also be the greatest player of all-time.

While that’s obviously hyperbole, VanVleet did look spectacular in this contest. He dropped 34 points on 12-18 shooting, dished seven dimes, and even managed to grab five rebounds. While his Finals performances were clearly more important, last night was the best individual game of his career.

And it wasn’t just VanVleet’s statistics that jumped off the page. He looked more confident and assertive, making decisions within seconds after receiving the ball. There was less dribbling and less surveying; there was more aggression and more decisiveness.

VanVleet’s 5-7 from 3-point land had an outsized impact on the box-score. However, the more sustainable improvement was the success he had attacking the rim. FVV went 7-11 from inside of five-feet, shooting 60-percent in the process. In 2018-2019, Fred averaged just 2.8 attempts per game within five-feet and shot below 50-percent.

Nurse showed confidence in Fred early, giving him the starting nod over Norman Powell. We don’t know if that factored into his outbreak, but I’d guess it probably didn’t hurt. While the dual point guard look might not be the plan for 82 games, it will probably get another shot in game two.

He won’t be this good every game, but if he can play this style and with this confidence, he’ll be a markedly better player.