Fred VanVleet shows offensive potential of healthy Raptors lineup

TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 5: Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 5: Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images) /

Fred VanVleet and the Toronto Raptors could finally reap the benefits of a fully healthy lineup. After a myriad of injuries and COVID-19 positive tests, the Raptors could finally start VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Scottie Barnes, Pascal Siakam, and Gary Trent Jr. while being supplemented by many of their top reserves.

Their first game in a while with this locked and loaded lineup was against the New York Knicks, who were missing big names like Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson thanks to the league’s health and safety protocols. VanVleet and the rest of the Raptors took full advantage.

While Siakam was a few assists shy of a triple-double and Anunoby set the tone with a dominant first half, it was VanVleet who stole the show with 35 points in three quarters. VanVleet went 11-17 from the field and 7-13 from 3-point range in the 120-105 victory.

While some may need to qualify Toronto’s performance on offense by mentioning the level of competition, that shouldn’t erase all of the good vibes this team exuded in this game. The Raptors look like a team capable of making the play-in if the offense is even two-thirds as good as it was against the Knicks.

105. 27. 120. 81. Final

Fred VanVleet and the Toronto Raptors lit the Knicks up.

Every starter brings something unique to the table. While Trent didn’t play very well tonight, his outside shooting and confidence will come in handy later in the season. Anunoby’s physicality and defensive prowess will help him take on some of the league’s best individual scorers.

Siakam is looking more like the All-Star we have seen before by dominating on the glass and in the paint. Barnes continues to march towards the Rookie of the Year award, while VanVleet is making a very compelling case for the All-Star game

The Raptors may have a logjam in the frontcourt on the bench, but Khem Birch, precious Achiuwa, and the suddenly resurgent Chris Boucher all turned in solid performances in this game. What was once a source of weakness early in the season could quickly become an area of strength.

The odds of Trent shooting this poorly night in and night out are close to zero, so it’s been nice to see Toronto come with such a balanced attack in the last few games. VanVleet is the maestro making everything flow in the backcourt, which is what this team envisioned he would be at the beginning of the season.

The Raptors may start surprising some folks down the stretch, as they managed to remain right around the fringes of the playoff with names like Anunoby, Birch, and Siakam missing large chunks of time.

If Fred VanVleet keeps this team cooking by nailing 3-pointers, playing more great defense, and setting the offense up, the sky is the limit for this unit.

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