VanVleet’s Mastery of Self as Vital as Off-Ball Potency

Fred VanVleet's off-ball potency may only be rivalled by his understanding of self, and the Toronto Raptors will need both to drive success this season.

Vincit qui se vincit

Indeed, peel back the layers (virtuous and unenviable) of yourself and examine each closely, and a pathway to positive change will become apparent. Whether or not one opts to actually set foot down such a pathway, fraught with chittering insecurities and undulating fears, is an entirely separate task.

For NBA players, these hoary notions manifest in the clash between realizing their best on-court selves and embracing whatever form that may take. While encouraging continuous growth is a vital aspect of team-building, maximizing personnel within the confines of a system’s structure (ideally dictated by top-end talent) is undeniably the quickest route to success.

Enter Fred VanVleet, who stepped into a new, more prominent role with gusto last season, expanding his game in myriad ways (particularly as a lead pick-and-roll operator and pull-up threat) and ultimately emerging as a deserved first-time all-star. VanVleet’s increased on-ball presence saw him notch the second-highest usage rate (23.3 per cent) and unassisted made field goal percentage (42.8 per cent) of his career (second only to the oddball Tampa year)—all while improving his overall true shooting percentage (55.2 per cent).

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