Raptors’ Fred VanVleet looks set to continue hot start vs. Pistons
Now in his sixth NBA season, Toronto Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet has never been an All-Star. That may soon change.
VanVleet averages 19.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 7.1 assists for the Raptors, who face the visiting Detroit Pistons on Saturday.
The former Wichita State star leads the league in minutes played (38.6 per game), while shooting 43.5 percent from the field and 39.6 percent from 3-point range.
He bolstered his All-Star campaign on Thursday with six 3-pointers, scoring 32 points in a 115-109 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.
“I definitely want to be an All-Star,” VanVleet said. “I want to win all the awards. I want to be all-defensive. Those are all goals I have. The good thing for me is that I probably will not achieve any of them if we are not a good team or a tophold. “
Before embarking on a six-game road trip, the Raptors are hosting a rebuilding Pistons team that has dropped nine of its first 11 races.
Detroit made 23 turnovers in Friday’s 98-78 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, which led by a whopping 27 in the fourth quarter.
Pistons head coach Dwane Casey, who coached Toronto for seven seasons from 2011-18, remained optimistic after the recent loss.
“We have a young team – not to make excuses,” Casey said. “It’s growing pains. It’s coming. We have to find out.”
Guard Jerami Grant averages 18.7 points and five rebounds to lead Detroit, which won all three meetings against Toronto last season.
The Pistons boast a promising core that includes No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham, who noted nine points and six rebounds in Friday’s loss but made a season-high seven turnovers.
The Pistons participated in the competition ranked last in the league in terms of scoring (96.6 points per game) and were held to a season-low point in Friday’s loss.
Detroit played without striker Kelly Olynyk, who suffered a MCL sprain in his left knee in Wednesday’s win over the Houston Rockets and will be out of the game for at least six weeks.
The Pistons hope Isaiah Stewart takes a step forward in Olynyk’s absence. The second-year pro had two points and seven rebounds in 24 minutes on Friday.
The Raptors are expected to have Pascal Siakam back in the ranks after the striker was kept out of Thursday’s match due to “injury handling”.
The 6-foot-8 Siakam has averaged 27.5 minutes played in two games since returning to the team after an off-season shoulder surgery.
Siakam’s absence has provided an opportunity for 6-foot-9 striker Chris Boucher, who scored a season-high 17 points in 24 minutes in Thursday’s win over Philadelphia.
Boucher has 11 blocks in 13 games while strengthening his place in the Raptors’ crowded front line, which includes Siakam along with Precious Achiuwa, Khem Birch and Yuta Watanabe.
“There are a lot of guys who can do a lot of different things on this team,” Boucher said. “I just have to find my role where I have to take my shots, and find my confidence that I had last year. I think (Thursday) was a big step for me in finding that confidence again and realizing how I have to play.”
– Media at field level
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