VanVleet talks Raptors roster, return to Toronto

Published: Aug. 30, 2021 at 7:00 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Since making his debut with the Raptors in 2016, Fred VanVleet has always had a mentor in the backcourt. Whether it was Demar Derozan or Kyle Lowry, VanVleet had a veteran to learn from. That all changes this season.

VanVleet, 27, is entering his sixth year in Toronto. The Auburn grad has seen a steady rise to his career. He had career highs in every major statistical category last season, averaging 19 points 4 rebounds and 6 assists, while playing 36.5 minutes per game. Now he’s going to be asked to step up even more after the Raptors traded Lowry to the Miami Heat. After missing the playoffs last year, VanVleet doesn’t mind betting on himself once again.

“We got what it takes. We’re kind of in a transitional period,” explained VanVleet. “We got a lot of young guys who are talented. We got a lot of athleticism. So, we’ll see. We’ll go out there, we’ll roll the dice. People are kind of counting us out and I don’t mind being in that position.”

“I feel great. I feel like I’m just scratching the surface. I know a lot of people are thinking this is all I got, so I’m in a good spot. I’ve been working extremely hard to show that I could do more. I’m just excited about what the future brings.”

It’s been almost exactly 18 months since the Raptors last played a game at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. The Raptors lost to the Hornets 99-96 that night on February 28, 2020 and VanVleet can’t wait to get back. The Raptors had to play the last season and a half in Florida, but with the Canadian government allowing them to play again north of the border, VanVleet is excited to get back to to Toronto.

“I’m just looking forward to being back in the city. It’s been a long time,” said VanVleet. “It’s been over a year for me and my family. So being back, in Toronto, which became a second home for us, being back there with the fans, being back in our home arena, our home facilities, that’s what I’m looking forward to.”

“It’s been a long time. So, I know the energy and the vibe in the arena is going to be crazy. We need that home court advantage. We won a lot of games at home every year due to our home court advantage. So, it’ll be fun to get back to that.”

The Raptors open the regular season October 20 at home against the Washington Wizards.

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