Fred VanVleet Sets Scoring Record for Undrafted Players
Tuesday night VanVleet set the all-time scoring record for an undrafted player in one game when he exploded for 54 points in a win against the Orlando Magic. Just any old player did not hold this record, VanVleet beat the long-lasting record of Hall of Famer Moses Malone, who eclipsed 53 points in one game. VanVleet scored in many different ways on his way to 54, in large part to his lights out three-point shooting.
VanVleet shot a whopping 78 percent from behind the arc, making 11 of 14 threes. This isn’t the first time VanVleet has showcased his talents on the court, but a record game like this for sure grabbed NBA fans’ attention around the world.
King of Toronto
Fred VanVleet is a household name in Toronto but should be well known by the entire NBA. The 6’0″ point guard out of Wichita State went undrafted in the 2016 NBA Draft, where soon after, the Raptors struck gold. In a draft headlined by Ben Simmons, Brandon Ingram, and Jaylen Brown, VanVleet has accomplished just as much, if not more, since coming into the NBA. VanVleet is a scrappy, tough young player that is not afraid of the big moment.
In 2019 when the Toronto Raptors defeated the Golden State Warriors to win the NBA Championship, VanVleet made a significant impact off the bench. VanVleet averaged 14 ppg in the finals, when he didn’t start at all in the series. VanVleet brought energy, defense, and a dead-eye three-point shooter game in and game out to put the Raptors over the top.
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Rise to Stardom
For VanVleet, it hasn’t always been easy. Starting as an undrafted free agent, he struggled to get on the court playing on a talented team with guards like Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. In his rookie season, VanVleet averaged just 7.9 minutes per game and 2.9 ppg. Each year the makeup of the Raptors continued to change, and VanVleet continued to prove his worth. Year after Year, VanVleet began to earn more minutes per game, translating into points for the Raptors. A year ago, VanVleet was averaging 17.6 ppg, and early into the 2021 NBA season has already improved to 20.4 ppg.
Stars React to VanVleet’s Accomplishment
To no surprise, VanVleet is a fan favorite in Toronto and a locker room favorite with the Raptors. After his big night on Tuesday, VanVleet was stormed into the locker room by his cheering teammates showering him with water. Former teammate and mentor DeMar DeRozan might be on the San Antonio Spurs now, but he took to Twitter to congratulate his former teammate.
“Congrats to my brotha Freddy V, Kyle old a** couldn’t do it, glad you did champ, been telling you,” said DeRozan.
For a while now, people around the NBA knew VanVleet was a top-tier sixth-man and player coming off the bench. As someone who may not get as much attention as players like Lebron James, Stephon Curry, or Luka Doncic, VanVleet put his name on the map against the Magic. VanVleet had people on Twitter going crazy and even the Raptors team account using #NBAAllStar when tweeting about his historic night. At the age of 26, VanVleet finds himself as a full-time starter on the Raptors with his best basketball ahead of him. For VanVleet, the sky’s the limit, and the Raptors are fortunate to have him. After Kawhi Leonard’s departure and with Kyle Lowry getting older (34), the Raptors have a great young core of VanVleet and forward Pascal Siakam.
Where to Next?
VanVleet and the Raptors do not have too much time to celebrate the accomplishment as the Raptors travel to Brooklyn for a matchup against the Nets.
“It was a good game for me, and I’ll enjoy all the love for a couple hours and get ready for the next one,” said VanVleet. Both Toronto and Brooklyn are two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.
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