Title: Improving his finishing could be key to Fred VanVleet’s growth, next contract
Date: July 28, 2020
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about the need for Fred VanVleet to improve his finishing, for the Raptors and for his next contract.
A number of things changed for Kyle Lowry throughout his career to shape him from a journeyman reserve in the making to a potential Hall of Famer. For those who are fond of tracing Fred VanVleet’s career arc alongside Lowry’s, one giant progression Lowry made stands out as missing from VanVleet’s development so far: the ability to finish at the rim.
VanVleet and Lowry indeed share many similarities. Sometimes tying two players together narratively can look like a shortcut or feel shoehorned for convenience. In this case, we’re talking about two undersized point guards who approach the game with the same type of intelligence and intensity, both of whom are leaders, and both of whom defend far beyond their size would suggest, taking every marginal edge they can find to create advantages where some don’t see those opportunities. Even the differences in their development have brought them to similar endpoints. Lowry developed his 3-ball much later than VanVleet, but both use it as a major weapon and a means of playing off the ball part time. VanVleet found his way to a meaningful role quicker but also entered the league when he was older. To what degree VanVleet poached his undersized post defence from Lowry is unclear, but he’s gotten there, to the extent of the two point guards potentially cannibalizing each other’s All-Defense chances.
The similarities in their paths can cut one of two ways when it comes to VanVleet’s finishing, depending on your perspective.