3 All-Star candidates Raptors’ Fred VanVleet is outperforming

TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 7: Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors dribbles against the Utah Jazz (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 7: Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors dribbles against the Utah Jazz (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images) /
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Fred VanVleet, Toronto Raptors
Mar 21, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet (23) drives to the basket against Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland (10) Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /

The Toronto Raptors might have an All-Star on their hands, as star guard Fred VanVleet has filled in for Kyle Lowry on both ends of the floor by showing off his blend of efficiency, tenacity, and clutch scoring. He should be on track for an appearance in Cleveland as a backup.

VanVleet will need to overcome some laughable, borderline embarrassing fan vote results, as names like Derrick Rose and Kyrie Irving were leagues ahead of him in the first wave of returns based purely on their history and name recognition. VanVleet’s numbers prove he should get ASG consideration.

VanVleet is averaging 22.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 6.7 assists per game in what has quickly become the best season of his young career. VanVleet has become one of the best offensive players this game has to offer in the backcourt. His contemporaries numbers’ simply don’t match up.

VanVleet might not be as popular in the eyes of the fans voting for the All-Star Game, but his numbers are right up there with anyone in the Eastern Conference. These 3 guards are outpacing him in votes, but VanVleet has been a much better player this season.

3. Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers

Garland has played a major role in Cleveland’s rejuvenation. While Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley are getting the credit in the frontcourt, Garland has been the top perimeter scorer after Collin Sexton was lost due to injury. Even with those impressive stats, VanVleet trumps him in this comparison.

Garland’s 19.6 points per game are far less than VanVleet’s 22.0, and his 7.2 assists per game are not distant enough from VanVleet’s 6.7 per contest to really merit a ton of praise. With similar records, the excuse of Garland being on a winning team should also apply to Fred in this context.

Toronto Raptors: Fred VanVleet is scoring more than Darius Garland.

While Garland has made strides on the defensive end, even the staunched Cavaliers fan would concede that VanVleet is the better on-ball defender at this moment in time. If Garland gets more votes than VanVleet, fans are blatantly overlooking his defensive contributions.

This is not to minimize Garland’s accomplishments this season. He looks more aggressive and in control of the game than he did at Vanderbilt, and that has directly correlated to Cleveland’s success. However, when compared to VanVleet, the numbers favor the Wichita State product.