Toronto Raptors should give Fred VanVleet money he deserves

Toronto Raptors - Fred VanVleet (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Fred VanVleet (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Fred VanVleet defines Toronto Raptors basketball and the team cannot afford to see him go.

When I think of the Toronto Raptors, I think of a hard-working, blue-collar, defensive team that will do anything to win. Besides Kyle Lowry, the heart of this team is Fred VanVleet.

The 26-year-old guard has only played 231 NBA games (82 as a starter), but I’ve seen enough to call him a superstar in the making. After averaging 17.6 points, 6.6 assists, and 3.8 rebounds per game last year, VanVleet is just getting started.

His offensive numbers were great this year, but his defense may have been even better. The undrafted kid from Rockford, Illinois finished tied-17th in defensive win shares this season. Always playing with a chip on his shoulder, while learning from one of the best defensive guards in the NBA (Kyle Lowry), VanVleet has continued to show how valuable he is on a nightly basis.

Lowry will be 35-years-old when his contract expires and although he could probably still play for another few seasons, it doesn’t make sense to keep giving him $30M per season. Instead, the Raptors should seriously look at promoting VanVleet as the everyday point guard and move on from Lowry after next season.

This has nothing to do about the legacy of the greatest Toronto Raptors player of all-time, but instead has everything to do with building a young competitive team for the future. The combination of Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet needs to be that dynamic duo if the team wants to stay relevant in the Eastern Conference and using a large percentage of your salary cap towards an aging veteran doesn’t make any sense.

Not only do they do it on the court, but have you seen the way VanVleet and Siakam team-up during those Peanut Butter and Jam commercials? The chemistry between these two guys is unbelievable!

By signing VanVleet, the salary-cap would be very crowded next season, but that’s okay because Lowry’s off the books one season later. That’s very important because it clears space for Giannis Antetokounmpo when he becomes an Unrestricted Free Agent. As I’ve mentioned before, that’s priority number-one and the Raptors need to do anything to acquire the “Greek Freak.”

I know bringing back someone like Serge Ibaka or Marc Gasol would seem more logical because the Raptors already have a point-guard in Lowry, but we need to consider the future. Ibaka and Gasol are aging veterans, and the NBA is a small man’s league now anyway. You can find a big-man, much easier than you can find a world-class guard, and that’s the trajectory I think VanVleet is heading towards.

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VanVleet is turning into the heart and soul of the Raptors. Just like his team, he never gets enough respect and has to prove the haters wrong on a nightly basis. Hard work pays off and it’s time to reward VanVleet with the money he deserves because he’s just getting started.