Fred VanVleet's NBA career has been one long, continuous bet on himself. The story is gospel at this point. He began as an undrafted rookie, and his average minutes, shot attempts, and points scored have risen steadily every season of his career. His meteoric rise culminated in an All-Star berth last season, his first as a 20-point-per-game scorer, making him only the fifth undrafted player to ever become an All Star. A betting observer, much like VanVleet himself, might have assumed his trend would remain consistent coming into the 2022-23 season.
But instead of adding more points, more shots, more of everything to his plate this season, VanVleet seems to be on a diet. His per-game shot attempts have plummeted from 16.9 per game (in between Tyler Herro and LaMelo Ball last season) to 11.3 (in between Brook Lopez and Tobias Harris' averages this season). He is scoring less and using fewer plays. He was seventh in the league in touches last season and is 18th this year. He is dribbling the ball less each time he touches it and is holding it for fewer seconds.
VanVleet is doing decidedly less for the Raptors this season on the offensive end. The culmination of this trend was a one-point game against the Philadelphia 76ers on Oct. 28 in which VanVleet shot 0-for-11 from the floor. It's hard to say which is more surprising: that he didn't make a shot, or that he attempted only 11. Neither reality would have been typical of VanVleet in 2021-22, even if Raptors fans are quite used to low-scoring affairs from their star point guards.