Raptors star Fred VanVleet an MVP candidate, per advanced stats

MIAMI, FLORIDA - JANUARY 17: Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - JANUARY 17: Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors are currently witnessing one of the greatest individual seasons in franchise history out of Fred VanVleet. Scoring like he’s never scored before while remaining the team’s emotional leader, Wichita State’s finest has been the unquestioned best player on this team.

VanVleet ended last night’s contest against the Dallas Mavericks averaging 21.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 6.8 assists per game. When paired with excellent defense and a knack for coming through in the clutch, VanVleet should be a lock on your All-Star team ballot if you have a functioning brain.

As good as traditional stats make VanVleet look, analytically-minded fans might be drawn in by his Box Plus-Minus, LEBRON, RAPTOR, and Player Efficiency Rating scores. Not only are they well above average, but they’re putting him in the MVP race in the eyes of some.

HoopeHype’s Bryan Kalbrosky tried to create a consensus ranking of all of those stats and use it to form an MVP ladder. VanVleet came in seventh in these combined rankings.

The six guys ahead of him are the consensus five best players in the league (Kevin Durant, Nikola Jokic, Steph Curry, LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo) and the Defensive Player of the Year favorite in Rudy Gobert.

The Toronto Raptors have been carried by Fred VanVleet this season.

VanVleet’s Cleaning the Glass numbers (subscription required) are even better. The Raptors are scoring 8.3 points per 100 possessions when he is on the floor and they allow 7.1 points fewer per 100. That impact puts him in the 97th percentile across the league.

VanVleet has made at least three 3-pointers in every game since December 14. In that span, he’s averaged 26.7 points and 7.6 assists per game. An All-Star appearance seems like a foregone conclusion at this point, as he has put together a season worthy of any accolade coming his way.

While VanVleet may not get MVP love from the voters, which is by no means absurd given how dominant names like Antetokounmpo, Durant, and James have been, these stats do paint a very compelling picture that details how he has been carrying this flawed roster to some success in the regular season.

Despite the fact that the diminutive point guard was asked with replacing Kyle Lowry while coming off an inefficient shooting season, VanVleet has taken such a huge step forward that it’s cemented him firmly as the leader of this team. His box score numbers are great, but his analytical stats make him look like a superstar.

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