The Toronto Raptors have been struggling at the moment, as they are 2-3 in their past five games, with their two wins in that stretch coming against the struggling Orlando Magic and a depleted Los Angeles Lakers team. Overall, Nick Nurse’s side are still a respectable 13-12, considering all the injury problems that they have had to deal with.
There are a few players on the team who have failed to match expectations this season, but nobody has been more disappointing than Fred VanVleet.
With a big new contract to play for, fans would have expected VanVleet to produce the best basketball of his career this season after making the All-Star team in the previous campaign. On the contrary, the point guard appears to have taken a few steps back and is struggling badly with his shooting at the moment.
VanVleet is averaging 16.8 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 6.4 assists per game this season while shooting 36% from the field and 33.3% from beyond the arc. In terms of PPG and RPG, these are his lowest numbers since the 2018-19 season. When it comes to FG%, he shot worse only in his rookie season.
VanVleet has looked off for the last month. Nick Nurse and VanVleet both seem to think that his struggles are due to mechanical issues that will eventually be cleared up. One thing is perfectly clear in this stretch. This offense isn’t going to go anywhere unless VanVleet gets back to his old form.
The Toronto Raptors need Fred VanVleet to play better.
VanVleet certainly is not playing like a franchise point guard. He did have a 25-point game against the Lakers, but it was not a tremendous performance by any stretch of the imagination. While 8-20 from the field is better than he has done recently, he still made just 25% of his 3-point attempts, going 3-12 from range.
While his early struggles may have been brushed off by some as a rough patch of form he will overcome, we are 25 games into the season now and the All-Star point guard is not doing much better.
VanVleet has just one game in the last two weeks with more than 13 points and hasn’t made more than half his shots in a month. Remember how inefficient and worn down he looked in the playoffs last year? Does it look that dissimilar to what we see now? Can Toronto really expect to win like this?
Still, the game against the Lakers appeared to be a step in the right direction. His 20 attempts were the third-most he’s attempted in a game all season long, showing that Nurse has full confidence in VanVleet. With no other great point guard alternatives, Nurse and the Raptors are hitching their wagon to Fred.