Fred VanVleet has extremely bold take on Raptors-Warriors Finals

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 13: Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 13: Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors may not have faced a Golden State Warriors team that was at full strength during their title run in 2019, but that didn’t stop Fred VanVleet and a hungry squad from staring down Draymond Green and pulling out the first championship in franchise history.

The health of Kevin Durant was one of the biggest factors in deciding the winner of this series, as he only had a brief one-quarter cameo before suffering an injury that wiped him out for the entirety of next season. Toronto took advantage of the shorthanded Warriors.

Listen to any interview with the 2022 NBA All-Star and you’ll find a confidence and quiet bravado in him that undoubtedly played a role in his stellar Finals performance. Even when he was addressing Green directly, FVV thinks that his Raptors were a more complete squad than the dynasty they toppled.

On Green’s podcast, VanVleet said that the Raptors believed they were much better than Golden State without Durant in the lineup. VanVleet said that the team was hunted players like Alfonzo McKinnie, Quinn Cook, and DeMarcus Cousins, citing the fact that they were new and less integrated with the Golden State scheme.

Fred VanVleet thinks the Toronto Raptors were better than the Warriors.

Even if the Durant-less Warriors had the best individual player on the floor in Curry, Toronto clearly has them beat from a depth perspective. Leonard was the catalyst and Kyle Lowry was the veteran leader, but this roster was full of difference-makers in the starting lineup and off the bench.

A 2022 All-Star in VanVleet coming off of the bench was a lethal weapon. A center rotation of Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka alongside Pascal Siakam gave Toronto a much better frontcourt than Kevon Looney and what was left of Boogie.

Norman Powell and Danny Green made for a very reliable wing shooter duo. OG Anunoby didn’t even play in the Finals due to his appendectomy, but he would have only made Toronto deeper. Leonard got all of the hype, but his skill hid one of the deepest rosters we’ve seen in recent NBA history.

We’ll never know what would happen in this series if Durant and Thompson were fully healthy for the entire duration, but VanVleet’s claim might not be as preposterous as some Warriors fans are making it seem. That squad was loaded, and they helped end the Golden State dynasty thanks to their depth.

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