Fred VanVleet solidifies All-Star case in Raptors win against Jazz

TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 7: Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors drives against Hassan Whiteside #21 of the Utah Jazz (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 7: Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors drives against Hassan Whiteside #21 of the Utah Jazz (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images) /

2022 NBA All-Star candidate Fred VanVleet and the Toronto Raptors were scheduled to take on the Utah Jazz despite names like Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, and Mike Conley all sitting this game out. This was the perfect opportunity to lean on an All-Star candidate to help secure a victory.

VanVleet was disrespected in the first wave of 2022 All-Star fan voting, as players like Kyrie Irving and Derrick Rose were blowing his vote totals out of the water based entirely on name and brand recognition rather than exceptional play. Would taking on a depleted Jazz team help pad his stats?

After a ragtag collection of backups stormed out to a 40-point first quarter, Toronto was in danger of getting blown out at home in quite humiliating fashion. VanVleet took matters into his own hands, and he proved to everyone why he should be in Cleveland this year.

VanVleet scored 24 points in the third quarter, with an absurd 20 of those points coming in the final 4:22 of the third stanza. He finished with a triple-double after recording 37 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists in the finest individual game a Raptors player has had this season.

He’s not only an All-Star, he’s a no-doubt All-Star.

122. 81. Final. 108. 118

Toronto Raptors star Fred VanVleet dominated in the second half.

Like many Raptors in this game, VanVleet struggled out of the gate. In the first half, he was just 2-10 from the field and connected on only one 3-point attempt. Nick Nurse must’ve woken him up in the locker room, as Fred’s third quarter was one of the best individual quarters any player in franchise history has had.

Only Pascal Siakam, who scored 25 points in a quarter to set the franchise record, can claim to have scored more in one quarter as a Raptor than VanVleet. VanVleet was able to do this when nearly every member of his team (except for OG Anunoby) was underperforming.

Gary Trent Jr. was ice cold for most of the game. Siakam was unable to get into a groove against Hassan Whiteside in the paint. Khem Birch and their collection of bench bigs were not providing much in the way of scoring. Despite it all, VanVleet persevered and picked up

While some Fred VanVleet haters might try to downplay this performance by complaining about the level of competition, the fact of the matter is that this team was almost down by 20 points at home, yet VanVleet singlehandedly brought them back and helped them notch another victory.

Hopefully, this performance puts fans and the league on notice as to what kind of performer he is and what kind of season he is having. Kyle Lowry might be gone, but VanVleet is filling his role expertly.

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