Raptors’ Fred VanVleet says he’ll be a starter ‘soon’
Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet has stated his belief that he will be an NBA starter very soon. Ahead of his team’s loss on Friday against the Brooklyn Nets, VanVleet stated in an article by Mark Suleymanov for NBA.com:
“I’m going to be a starter, it’s just a matter of when.”
Despite this, VanVleet is aware of his current role and understands why his contributions are so important to the success of the Raptors.
“Right now, my role is to come off the bench, be a backup point guard and lead the team and try to be a spark and make big plays.”
The 24-year-old is averaging nine points, 2.2 rebounds, and 4.1 assists in 23.8 minutes of action per game, and it’s not hard to envision he will be able to contribute even more as a starter. In three starts this season, the Raptors are 3-0, and having a strong backup like Fred VanVleet is a luxury that not all teams have.
VanVleet backing himself to be a starter in the future is far from outlandish. However, it is hard to envision considering the current makeup of the Raptors. Four-time NBA All-Star Kyle Lowry occupies the starting point guard role, and a potential move to the shooting guard spot is unlikely considering VanVleet’s height at six feet and the “three-and-D” ability of veteran starter Danny Green.
However, there are a number of ways Fred VanVleet can make the starting spot his own. Three revolve around Kyle Lowry. The first, yet most unlikely, is that VanVleet takes Lowry’s spot. Lowry has been struggling of late, and his scoring on the season is now below his career average. Granted, he has been putting up a high number of assists, but he has only been averaging five points over his last three games which is certainly not starting point guard material. This is likely just a slump, and you won’t see the team bench a player making $33 million a year, but it’s something which leads into the next, more likely scenario.
Kyle Lowry gets traded.
There is enough evidence to suggest that Lowry being traded may be on the cards. Lowry has been very outspoken regarding DeMar DeRozan’s trade this past summer, and many of his comments have been blunt criticisms of the franchise. There are a number of teams which would be interested in Lowry, and his contract is a bit more trade-friendly, as he still has a year left on his contract beyond this season. $33 million per season is hard to move, but it can be done.
The next scenario really depends on your definition of “soon.” Fred VanVleet could naturally take Lowry’s spot if he decides to sign elsewhere after his contract finishes next season. Lowry and VanVleet will both be free agents at the end of the 2019-20 season, and Lowry may choose to depart, or the Raptors may choose to move forward with VanVleet as the starting guard. This also depends on what happens with Kawhi Leonard at the end of this season.
The final scenario is that Fred VanVleet gets traded. This is very unlikely given his team-friendly contract, his tremendous upside, and his youth. He wants to remain in Toronto for his entire career, and the Raptors would be thrilled with his attitude and output. However, VanVleet would have a number of suitors, and it is a feasible path to being an NBA starter.