Title: How an injury, then boredom led Fred VanVleet to dig into his analytics and improve his game
Date: March 26, 2019
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic, I wrote about how Fred VanVleet used analytics to improve his game while injured.
Fred VanVleet was already bored.
This would be the longest injury absence of his career. VanVleet missed only a handful of games over four college seasons, had played through myriad bumps and bruises over three years as a pro and fought back from his most serious injury far sooner than he had any right to. With the stakes – and the possibility of playing through the injury – a little lower this time around, VanVleet had no choice but to sit, let the ligaments in his surgically repaired left thumb heal and wait.
VanVleet did all of the good teammate things you’d expect like rooting on the Raptors from the sideline, working as an extension of the coaching staff and developing chemistry with Marc Gasol. Coaches have suggested that the time off alone likely helped VanVleet, who had dealt with minor toe, hamstring and back issues throughout the early parts of the season. Still, he was, you know, bored with not playing and wanted to work on his own game however he could with only one hand available to him.
And so VanVleet sought out Brittni Donaldson, a data analyst on the Raptors’ well-respected analytics staff.