As the best available point guard on the market at the moment, Fred VanVleet is in an enviable position. The one time NBA champion is still in his prime at 26 and coming off a career year with averages of 17.9 points per game and 6.6 assists per game.
On the other hand, VanVleet is turning 27 in February, and is an undersized point guard in a league where oversized point guards are becoming increasingly fashionable. Additionally – outside of a few exceptions – small point guards typically do not age well in the NBA.
The best argument that can be made for VanVleet is that he has not shown anything but improvement each year he has been in the league. He is an above average passer and playmaker, an excellent shooter, and a clever defender.
These are assets that would fit well on any team, potentially making him an invaluable pick-up in a thin free agent class. Lastly, his age does mean that a four year deal may get a team VanVleet’s best years as a player.
A more pessimistic outlook would be to point out that VanVleet is largely the product of an excellent system and coaching in Toronto, making him more valuable to that franchise than any other.
While it is entirely possible that VanVleet has been maximized by the Toronto Raptors in a way that would be difficult to replicate elsewhere, some of his skills are too transferable to easily dismiss. Yes, perhaps the actions that the Raptors run put VanVleet in ideal situations on offense, but he still would need to convert as a shooter. Perhaps his teammates are adept at making the most of the passes he sends their way, but he is a capable passer and playmaker regardless.
Of course, his teammates – particularly Pascal Siakam and Kyle Lowry – can be helping him out on defense somewhat, but you are not necessarily getting VanVleet because you are expecting a lockdown defender anyway.
VanVleet could likely be a worthwhile acquisition for just about any team, but realistically the best match for him is likely to remain with the Toronto Raptors. VanVleet is a proven commodity with the Raptors and is not tasked with running the offense on a consistent basis – something that may change if picked up elsewhere.
Financially, it also makes more sense for Toronto to shell out for VanVleet that any other franchise. So whether a marriage of convenience or simply stuck together, VanVleet may be best staying put in Toronto.
Clint is an avid fan of the Los Angeles Lakers, and contributed to various sports publications prior to his work with Upside Hoops.