The division between media and some fans on Fred VanVleet

There’s a portion of the Raptors’ fanbase who feel Toronto media aren’t critical enough of Fred VanVleet. Amit Mann and Katie Heindl discuss why that is. Full episode discussing the major storylines around the team is on the ‘Raptors Over Everything’ podcast feed.

Video Transcript

AMIT MANN: People want more negativity against Fred VanVleet. The amount of times I’ve seen–

KATIE HEINDL: Yeah, and I’m not gonna give it. I’m sorry, guys. I’m not going to give it to you.

AMIT MANN: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. They feel like media are protecting him and that we’re looking to–

KATIE HEINDL: Yeah. I also don’t understand that, because, well, the argument is like, we’re defending someone, or we’re context– but we’re defending somebody by contextualizing what they’re doing, by what they’re saying , and maybe going back and also looking at the numbers to explore what they’re saying, which I hate to inform you is just reporting.

So I don’t know, like there isn’t a bias. It’s just, you can’t just– I’m not just going to give you the numbers. That would be just as bad. Or then you can just extrapolate from that, right, which people do anyway. Like you look at the numbers of that game, you’d be like, this is the worst team that’s ever played basketball in NBA history. It needs context.

AMIT MANN: A small example– and I’m going to openly say, OK, he has not shot the ball well from 3. He is not shooting as accurately, as fluidly as capable. He’s not as much of a threat as he was last season. There are several plays last night and games prior where last season, if he was shooting the first half of the season, we’re like, that’s going to go in, and it probably did, because he was that good.

So the shooting hasn’t been there. And the Raptors, because they’re so bad at shooting 3’s, they are heavily reliant on him to provide that. However, if you look at last night’s game, late third quarter, right, the Raptors actually closed the gap quite a bit. Going into fourth quarter, I mean, the game was pretty close. And how did that happen?

Well, Fred hit back-to-back shots. It was a pull up 3. It was a mid-range shot. And then he tells Juancho Hernangomez to get of that corner, I’m going to run some two-man game with Chris Boucher. And they got a lob out of it, right. That’s 7 points that were orchestrated just by him, doing things on his own.

Then after that, they ran the same play. He missed a 3. But that’s like an individual 7-0 run. And we saw him doing that last season. He was willing to do those. I’m sure with his shooting woes di lui, he’s reluctant to take on that kind of responsibility during a certain juncture of the game, right, four or five minute stretch where there’s been an issue where Pascal goes off the court and things kind of go pretty bad. Thats happened throughout the season.

But when you look at him as a floor general, which I do, it’s very subtle the ways in which he influences a game and the way he gets people in the right spot. It’s kind of actually reminiscent of Kyle Lowry. How was Kyle such a good offensive player? Well, look at his plus-minus of him. And plus-minus isn’t everything, but he’s getting players in the right spots and creating advantages for the Raptors offense.

And that’s looking at tape. That’s knowing the opponent. That’s knowing the players that are on his side of him, where they want the ball. And thats really important. So the shot making has been up and down, right. And the defense, sometimes it’s been up and down too, because he hasn’t been as good as a point of attack defender, which was a strong suit of his going back many years now. Injuries, wear and tear, I don’t know what it is, but those are two aspects that have not been as good this year. Shot making from 3, shot making in general, and also his point of attack defense has not been as good.

But there is another side to this. And the stretch I just told you, mind you, early fourth quarter the lead went back to like 9 points. And then he had to check back in. He is a heavily influential player on the Raptors. And I think he’s still trying to figure this out as much as anyone.

KATIE HEINDL: I think, like you said everything I would, other than like roles have changed. He’s adapting to that. He’s just had a lousy, he’s had a lousy season so far. There have been a lot of, like we’ve talked about that before, we don’t need to go into it. But there have been a lot of factors like feeding into that.

And aside from that, I think where I hesitate the most in terms of whether anybody is not being hard enough on him is that, do you listen to his interviews? Do you listen to his post games or his practice interviews about him? He’s usually the hardest on himself. I don’t, for as long as I’ve been around the team, and whether that was Fred in a role secondary to Kyle Lowry, whether that’s the role that he stepped into in Tampa and last season, and now this season, he’s usually the first one to say how badly he’s either playing, how badly he did, how much better he could have done.

So I think there’s a certain level of accountability, where it’s different if somebody is not being accountable and not pointing out the things that went wrong and how they are going to look at them and then try and fix them going forward. And Fred VanVleet has always done that.

So I think that’s where I would hesitate the most to say he needs some other kind of further judgment placed upon him. I think people will have their own opinions. I feel like I understand, people want a scapegoat for their emotions. There’s better ways to do that.

AMIT MANN: Don’t we all?

KATIE HEINDL: I think that putting it all on one person, when this entire podcast, and probably every podcast people have listened to for the last several weeks, it’s very clear that the problems do not come down to one person. And there have been problems with every single individual on the team.

So I think everybody is feeling pretty bad, bad enough. They don’t need us to be like, hey, do you feel bad? And we’re asking them that stuff anyway.

AMIT MANN: Yeah sure.

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