Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet made another case for why he should be an NBA All-Star on Sunday night.
VanVleet put up 23 points and nine assists on 50% shooting from three to help the suddenly-surging Raptors defeat the East-leading Philadelphia 76ers 110-103.
The Rockford, Illinois native is averaging career-highs in points (20.1), rebounds (4.4), and tied his career-high in assists (6.6) this season.
His game against the 76ers was not the only time the 26-year-old has excelled against good competition. He has put 33 points against the Milwaukee Bucks, 35 against the Boston Celtics, and 25 against the Indiana Pacers this season. He also dropped the most points ever scored in one game by an undrafted player when he put up a whopping 54 points against the Orlando Magic.
“Of course I feel like an All-Star,” VanVleet told reporters after Sunday’s win. “I’m a confident guy. I don’t work this hard not to feel that way. I don’t play the way that I play to not feel that way.”
“I thought he looked like an All-Star tonight,” Raptors head coach Nick Nurse added. “He’s got really quick hands and really quick feet, he doesn’t, maybe, look like the greatest athlete and doesn’t go north and south with great speed but he does move side to side. He’s got great anticipation (defensively).”
For as good as VanVleet has been at the offensive end of the floor, it’s his suffocating defence that could make the difference for him to receive his first-ever All-Star selection.
— #NBAAllStar (@NBAAllStar) February 19, 2021
Following the announcement of the starters last week, the NBA will announce the All-Star reserves, chosen by NBA coaches, on Tuesday night.
Top guards in the Eastern Conference who VanVleet will be going up against, include James Harden (Brooklyn Nets), Trae Young (Atlanta Hawks), Jaylen Brown (Boston Celtics), Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers), and Zach LaVine (Chicago Bulls).
The competition will be stiff, but VanVleet will be good either way.
“I don’t play the game for that (All-Star Games), if that makes sense. But yeah it would be nice to be recognized that way,” VanVleet said. “I’m hopeful and we will see where it ends up. If not, I’ll probably be on a beach somewhere for those couple days when we get to All-Star break.”