The Toronto Raptors have helped Fred VanVleet make the jump from being an undrafted free agent to eventually ending up as one of the absolute best point guards in the game. His blend of pestilent defense and quality shooting helped him become the first undrafted free agent to be named an All-Star since Ben Wallace.
Toronto used a first-round pick on San Diego State sensation Malachi Flynn with the intent of turning him into another version of VanVleet. After two years, Flynn’s significant lack of improvement in many key areas has prompted some to consider dealing him for some extra cap space.
The Raptors could easily use the No. 33 pick in the NBA Draft on a point guard prospect that fits the VanVleet mold. Even though Flynn didn’t take to Nick Nurse’s coaching, refreshing the depth chart with a much younger player in place of him could be precisely what the franchise needs.
The Raptors have likely taken a look at these three prospects, considering how similar their style of play is to VanVleet. They won’t be as good as VanVleet, but they should be able to overtake Flynn on the depth chart and end up as solid backups.
3 Fred VanVleet-like prospects for the Toronto Raptors.
3. Tyson Etienne, Wichita State
Toronto already has one undersized point guard from Wichita State, so why not try to roll the dice on a second one? The Raptors have previously been interested in Etienne, as they worked him out when he made himself draft-eligible last season before returning to the Shockers.
Etienne is a quality athlete with plenty of short-area quickness and explosion. On top of the fact that the 6-2 guard is always looking to stick his hands into other people’s business on defense, he has been a leader for the last three seasons on a Shockers team that has dealt with tons of adversity.
Tyson Etienne fits in with the Toronto Raptors.
Etienne is a genuinely poor finisher, as he only connected on 36% of his shots in college. With his 3-point shooting identical at 36%, his inability to get to the rim and make plays inside the arc is one of the main reasons that he actually saw his scoring decrease during his third season.
Etienne is going to be a G League stash during his first season, as he is nowhere near close to being ready for primetime at the NBA level. With a few more years of seasoning, Etienne’s natural athletic ability will begin to take over as he tries to make a name for himself as VanVleet’s hypothetical backup.