Fred Van Vleet is rapidly erasing any doubts about whether or not he can play in the NBA. He showed plenty on the court over the weekend.
In a pair of games Van Vleet scored 15 points and ten points. The first effort was Friday night in Orlando. The second Sunday afternoon in Brooklyn. His play drew praise from Raptors all-star point guard Kyle Lowry.
“Fred’s been playing unbelievable!,” says Lowry. “Give that kid credit.”
What is it that Van Vleet brings to the team?
“I think he brings energy,” Lowry told reporters after the Raptor’s game Sunday. “He’s a midget so he goes out there and gets under people. I think he’s got that change of pace.”
Van Vleet played a total of 43 minutes in those two games. He got more playing time because of injuries to some of Toronto’s other guards and because another backup point guard Cory Joseph has been struggling.
“Freds’ been playing well. I just wanted to give him the opportunity,” said Raptors coach Dwane Casey Sunday. “I liked the way he quarterbacked. He had four assists, knocked his free throws down in the end. I thought he did a good job defensively.”
Van Vleet never knows from day-to-day how much he’ll play if at all, or if he’ll be down with the Raptors Developmental League team. His laid-back personality helps him deal with the uncertainty.
“It’s the nature of the business,” Van Vleet told reporters Sunday. “To be a professional you’ve got to be ready when you’re called on and that’s what I try to do. As of now I’m just trying to prepare for each game as if I’m going to play and if I don’t then that’s fine, but when I do I try to make the most of it.”
“I’m just trying to bring whatever I can to the table. If that’s waving the towel on the bench and doing celebrations I’ll do it. If that’s playing 25 minutes I’ll do that too.”
Van Vleet says his relationship with Lowry is a good one and the support he’s getting from Lowry helps.
“I think him showing confidence in me has helped too so, just to be out there obviously it’s a learning experience for me. I’m a young player, but I’m in the fire. I’ve got to help this team win, so I’m just trying to grow each game.”
Van Vleet did not play Monday night in the Raptors home win over the Clippers.