Fred VanVleet: 2022-23 Season in Review

Steady Freddy's finishing act in Toronto.

“The following is part of Raptors Republic’s series of pieces reviewing the season for the Toronto Raptors. You can find all the pieces in the series here.

“You Either Die A Hero, Or You Live Long Enough To See Yourself Become The Villain” is the perfect quote to sum up Fred VanVleet’s time in Toronto. During the championship run in 2019, VanVleet was struggling during the series against the 76ers. It continued over to the Milwaukee series for the first 3 games and then dad mode kicked in for Freddy. After VanVleet had a child, his game improved immensely and his shot in game six of the finals late in the fourth quarter will never be forgotten by Raptors fans. And now he’s turned into the villain as he signed with the Houston Rockets and came off a very inconsistent 2022-23 season with Toronto. 

Enough about VanVleet’s legacy, let’s take a look at how his final season in Toronto went down. Right out of the gate, something was up. VanVleet was put into a new role as he shot a season-low 11 field goals per game in the month of October and he was really struggling in the scoring department. It wasn’t all bad though, as he averaged the most steals of any month in October as well as his lowest turnovers per game.

October is as bad as it got for VanVleet as he improved as the season went on. His best scoring month came in March when he averaged 20.9 points per game on 42.1% shooting. It was one of two months in the season where VanVleet saw his shooting percentage higher than 40% and just the third month of the season where he was over 35% for three-pointers.

Highlights: 39 points against the Bucks. VanVleet hit the 39-point mark quite a few times last season and it was his season high. Funny enough, the Raptors lost all the games where VanVleet hit the mark but you can’t really blame him especially when he’s not just scoring, but also affecting the game on defence and as a playmaker. 

39 points against the Kings. Here we go again, this game was not as impressive as the Bucks performance but was still an excellent game for VanVleet and the Raptors lost to the surprise team of the season, the Sacramento Kings by one point.

Lowlights: Hero ball three in the Play-In game against the Bulls. To be fair VanVleet was really good in this game and he also made an unreal half-court buzzer-beater to cap off an amazing first half. But it’s a game of two halves and the Raptors blew a huge lead to Chicago which ended their season.

A C might be a bit too harsh for VanVleet since his stats look good and he played great in the Raptors most important game of the season against the Bulls in the Play-In but he was just way too inconsistent and didn’t have great shooting percentages.

All shot chart pictures courtesy of Statmuse

If you remember my Pascal Siakam review, VanVleet and Pascal had very similar shot charts. Both of them shot better on the right side compared to the left side of the court. Steady Freddy was above the league’s average in 6 of 14 possible shooting areas. His most impressive shooting area by far was PJ Tucker’s home, the right corner three as he shot 48.5% against the league average of 38.5%. This could bode well for his new team, the Houston Rockets as they have two very ball-dominant guards with Kevin Porter Jr. and Jalen Green so VanVleet could have a great year if he’s spotted up in a corner.

His worst shooting area personally was the straight-on threes as he shot an abysmal 31.9%. Against league average, his left-side baseline shots near the rim were 12.2% below average and at the rim 19.8% below league average.

No matter what you think about Fred VanVleet you can’t deny his importance to the championship team. Sadly, afterwards, things didn’t work out in the way the Raptors or VanVleet imagined but he will always be a legend in Toronto. A ton of chemistry issues in the locker room and Fred’s “Bet on yourself” motto made it very clear that his time was up in Toronto. Thanks for everything, Fred.