The Toronto Raptors lost one of their heart and soul members of the team this offseason when Fred VanVleet signed with the Houston Rockets in NBA free agency. VanVleet was one of the Raptors' top success stories of the past couple of seasons. Undrafted out of Wichita State, VanVleet became a fan favorite and leader of the team. He was instrumental in the Raptors 2019 championship run including his defense in the Finals on Stephen Curry. He blossomed into an All-Star caliber player. It's understandable if Raptors fans feel bad over his departure. The players on the team will certainly feel his absence as well as Scottie Barnes got honest about VanVleet's role on the team via Vivek Jacob of Raptors.com.
Scottie on Fred
"Fred was a leader on our team, he was our voice. Someone that was able to talk to the media, throughout the team, the organization. I was happy for him, he got a really big contract, he got his bread but we just gotta win basketball games as a team and move on."
— Vivek Jacob (@vivekmjacob) July 8, 2023
Fred VanVleet joined the Raptors in 2016 after he was not selected in the NBA Draft. He made the team out of training camp and went on to become one of the Raptors most important players. He made his first All-Star appearance during the 2021-22 season when he averaged a career-high 20.3 points per game, 4.4 rebounds, 6.7 assists and 1.7 steals with splits of 40.3 percent shooting from the field, 37.7 percent shooting from the field and 87.4 percent shooting from the free-throw line.
During the Raptors 2019 championship run, VanVleet averaged 8.0 points per game, 1.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists while shooting 38.8 percent from the three-point line. VanVleet became a full-time starter during the 2019-20 season.
With VanVleet gone to the Rockets, Scottie Barnes is one of the young Raptors who will have to step up this upcoming season. Barnes can play a little bit of a point forward role and he is sure to see the ball in his hands quite often.