ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF)– Fred VanVleet is back home in Rockford for a few weeks recharging after another NBA season.

This past season was VanVleet’s sixth in the NBA. It was his best individually. No, he didn’t get another ring, but he did set career highs for scoring average (20.3 ppg), and assists (6.7 apg). He had his first triple-double, and he was named to the NBA All-Star team.  He just missed out on making the NBA All-Defensive team. That gives him something to shoot for next year.

“It’s always a goal,” VanVleet told me Thursday afternoon. “I don’t know if we’ve got to re-evaluate how we vote in the voting process. I felt pretty good about my case this year, so I was a little disappointed, but that’s the way it goes.”

Injures hampered VanVleet the second half of the season. He’ll use offseason conditioning to do what he can to try to stay as healthy as possible through the long grind next season.

“That’s definitely a tall mountain to climb,” said VanVleet, “But that’s the fun part is to try to embrace the challenge of playing all 82, staying at peak performance throughout the year.”

VanVleet is now the unquestioned leader of the Raptors. How does he enjoying that role, and when the team struggles and goes through a rough patch, does he take that more personally than he did before?

“It’s definitely a huge challenge, but it’s been a lot of fun and a lot more stressful being the guy that it all falls on, so I definitely take the team’s performance to heart a little bit more than I used to because, you know I’m leading the ship.”

Next on VanVleet’s agenda this summer, a possible contract extension. He is halfway through the four-year deal he signed in 2020. In July, he will be eligible to sign a three-year or four-year extension with the Raptors.

“We’ll see how it goes. I’m not really pressing it too much. It’s just one of those things that arises within a contract, so we’ll have to have the conversation and see how it goes, but I think we’re in a good spot between myself and the team. I think we’re both in a good place.”

Toronto and Canadians have embraced VanVleet. He has embraced them.

“This is going on my seventh year here, so it’s become my second home, and I’ve learned a lot about what it means to be Canadian and living in Toronto.”

NOTE: VanVleet will be hosting the FVV Experience next week in Rockford. It’ll consist of a “Bet On Yourself Bowling” night at the Cherry Bowl next Thursday, the FVV Fest on Friday at Auburn High School, and then VanVleet’s summer youth camp on Saturday and Sunday at Auburn’s field house.