Fred VanVleet shows seeds of improvement, even in disappointment

Fred VanVleet has done some good stuff recently, even if it's not all great.

At this point, it’s clear what losses mean to the Toronto Raptors. There aren’t many more negative stories worth pursuing. The last time the Raptors lost six games in a row, it was the final six games of the Tampa Bay season. The parallels are, slowly but surely, coming together. It would probably be in the Raptors' interest to make sure that stops being the case. There's still plenty of time either way.

The Raptors are losing, and losing teams don’t get the benefit of taking sustenance in process. Results or nothing. But in the future, the Raptors will surely start to win games -- the longest losing streak in NBA history is 28 consecutive games. The Raptors will win again at some point. 

And at that point, many of the seeds that will begin sprouting, bearing the fruit of success, will be seen to have been planted during this losing streak. So process isn’t meaningful for Toronto now, but it might be later. And for now, even if process isn't meaningful for the team itself, it can be for us. So let’s get ahead of the curve and look at one of the most significant factors for Toronto’s future ability to win: Fred VanVleet’s finishing. 

VanVleet reached, hopefully, the nadir of his scoring on Dec. 5 against the Boston Celtics. He scored eight points, but the means by which he was unable to score was more striking than the final tally. He shot 1-of-6 from deep, continuing his plunge further and further into his slumping rabbit hole. And on the 10 possessions he drove the basketball, the Raptors -- not VanVleet himself, but the team itself -- scored zero points. 

His jumper wasn’t coming around -- and Nick Nurse spoke to media about how he was missing left and right, which is rare for VanVleet and indicative of a truly wayward jumper, rather than simply short or long -- so VanVleet needed to change things. Specifically, he needed to find some other way to score. Or if not that, at least a way to more positively influence the offensive end.

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