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Raptors’ Fred VanVleet to NBA-aspiring shorter players: ‘If you’re good enough, you’ll find a way’

Fred VanVleet, Raptors

Toronto Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet faced a peculiar question from a Japanese reporter after winning a high-scoring preseason opener against the Houston Rockets in Saitama, Japan.

The reporter pointed to the fact that the Raptors spark plug is one of the NBA’s shorter players, asking for any bits of advice for shorter Japanese players who aspire to play in the NBA. The question drew laughter from 6-foot-9 teammate Pascal Siakam, but VanVleet addressed it with deft seriousness:

“Why is that so funny?” VanVleet asked of Siakam, as the latter could barely contain his laughter.

“There’s a million different things you can do. Obviously at the NBA level, you have to be able to shoot 3s, so we’re going with shooting. And then on the other part, to answer your question, is to just be fearless. It doesn’t matter. If you’re good enough, you’ll find a way, you’ll have an opportunity. Height doesn’t always mean everything.”

VanVleet was also curious to see how he’ll be measured by the team this season, given the NBA put on more strict guidelines as to how to measure players.

The Wichita State product, who put up 16 points, five rebounds, five assists, and three steals in his preseason game against the Rockets, is listed as a 6-footer, though he was listed at 5-foot-11 as a senior before declaring for the 2016 NBA Draft.

Regardless of that inch difference, Fred VanVleet has proven to be an impactful player with his shooting ability, his hustle, and his toughness — attributes that won’t change because of a height disparity. He was a hero for the Raptors in the NBA Finals and will continue to be a key cog on the squad.