With all eyes watching the Toronto Raptors, Fred VanVleet can only offer honest realizations of their current situation.
Per VanVleet, the Raps have to straighten their focus towards games in order not to be distracted by plenty of raucous murmurs – with wins curing every woe they have.
“We just have to focus on the task at hand … we’ve got to focus on winning games,” said VanVleet, per SportsNet’s Michael Grange. “I think if you just lock in on that it kind of blocks out everything else. …
“In my seven years going through it, you realize there’s nothing you can do about it. The better you play and the better your team does, the lower the chance anybody getting shipped out of here. If you [crap] the bed you set yourself up for anything to happen. So we’ve got to control the controllables.”
VanVleet, one of the pillars of the team, has unexpectedly emerged as a trade component in the previous months. Despite enjoying an All-Star campaign last year, the undrafted guard has been dwelling on a rocky display this season, with his 18.9 points average coming off an inconsistent 38.7 percent field goal shooting.
Looking at the standings, Toronto has underperformed after their postseason finish last season. They are currently 11th in the East standings and in a dilemma if they should continue the fight or take the hard road of rebuilding.
“There’s been a couple of times this year that we just didn’t compete,” said VanVleet. “But we’ve had tough luck, some injuries. I think we lost somewhere between like eight games by less than [three] points or something like that? [Toronto is 2-8 in games decided by three points or less], so those are all toss-ups.
“[But] there’s definitely too many of the games where we just didn’t compete. Like coach says, you get one of those every once in a blue moon, but we’ve had too many of those.”
Amid flowing hardships as the season begins to go midway, VanVleet remains high-spirited as they try to flip their season around in a remarkable fashion.
“We got something here. You know what I’m saying? It might not look good, like what everybody wants it to look like,” VanVleet continued. “We got hot the last year [the Raptors were 23-23 after 46 games last season and finished 25-11 to end up with 48 wins and the fifth seed] and changed everybody’s expectation for what this group could do this year, rightfully so.
“We haven’t answered that up until January. So we got a couple of months to figure [stuff] out.”