After yet another dominating individual performance, star guard Fred VanVleet broke down the factors that will determine the Raptors' success the rest of the season, including the sacrifices that will be needed among Toronto's starters. Follow our Raptors coverage all season long on Yahoo Sports Canada.
- [INAUDIBLE] something from [INAUDIBLE] about [INAUDIBLE] a triple double.
FRED VANVLEET: [LAUGHS] No, but it was fun watching him try to get it. Yeah, it was fun watching him. It's tough. It's tough, man. It's not as easy as it looks. So, you definitely got to give credit to those guys who go out there and get them.
I know they took my Westbrook comments a little hard last time. But give them credit, man. It's not easy to do, as we can see.
- In terms of your shooting right now, what sort of-- does it feel-- I mean, I know you always expect [INAUDIBLE]. Does it feel different when you're in this sort of zone?
FRED VANVLEET: I mean, I think you recognize when you're in rhythm. And you just try to hold on as long as possible because it's not always like that. So, I try to keep my floor a little higher, you know. But when you're hot, I think you just got to be aggressive and ride it out as long as you can.
And I think just the position we're in now with having everybody back, I think we can kind of find our own natural roles, which has been a little bit of an issue for us this year with having guys in and out and guys having to do more than they expected or less than expected. So, I think we're finding our natural rhythm of where our team is going to be for now and you know, obviously, feeling pretty good. And you know, I'm not the best at, like, taking compliments or talking about myself, so feeling good. I'll leave it at that.
- I think you're [INAUDIBLE] catch-and-shoot. As you mentioned the other day, it is easier. But you're way at the top of the league in terms of that percentage. Why is that working? Why do you get so many looks like that the last five games [INAUDIBLE]
FRED VANVLEET: Well, let's keep that-- let's keep that between us, Mike. We got more teams coming up. But again, I think, you know, having everybody back, it's a little harder to key in on guys you still have-- Pascal who's one of the toughest covers, you got Gary out there.
And then with the lineup with Scottie and him being able to be a facilitator at that position, kind of in that Marc Gasol spot, where, you know, he can just pick apart the defense from the five position. Obviously, Scottie is a little more athletic than Marc was, but we got-- we got guys that are finding, you know, the shooters, being aggressive, and just trying to hunt the open catch-and-shoots, obviously, because I feel good in that role. And those are probably, like I said, the easiest shots I get. So just trying to capitalize on those.
- With that starting five, I mean, everybody can shoot. Everybody can score. Does somebody have to sacrifice?
FRED VANVLEET: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And it's--
- It moves, right?
FRED VANVLEET: Yeah, it moves. It's going to cycle. It's going to be different. Again, I think right now where we are is probably an indication of what it will look like most nights. But it's going to cycle on different nights. And that's where the maturity and the sacrifice comes in for the greater good of the team.
It's very easy to do when you're winning, not so much when you're losing. But I think, for the most part, we're pretty much all locked into contracts and things like that. So you know, we've got to put each other first, and it'll come back around for everybody, you know, whenever it's somebody's turn.
- What's a point guard in today's game?
FRED VANVLEET: I don't-- I think it's the same as it's always been. To be honest, I think it's just more archetypes out there. You know what I mean? Like, it's more different type of play styles. But I think the point guard is the same as it's always been. But it adapts, and it adjusts.
And I think that, you know, a little bit of the styles is kind of outdated in terms of just being the five traditional. I think there's probably another five or six after that. Shout-out to Rashad Phillips. He's got a pretty good breakdown of what those, you know, other kind of different slots can be on the court. And yeah, I think there's a whole bunch of different roles and play styles in today's game as the game evolves.
- How do you see it working when you're on the bench and Pascal and Scottie are bringing the ball up the court and trying to play some sort of point guard thing? What's that like.
FRED VANVLEET: Yeah. Again, it's an adventure sometimes. And you know, I think, again, if we can rely on our defense, then we can get out and play in transition. And I think growing up for me, being a point guard was just like making sure we get a good shot, getting the team [INAUDIBLE] getting guys in the right spots, kind of organizing and quarterbacking the floor.
So, that's a learning experience for anybody, especially those guys. But other than that, all of those guys can playmake. So, you just put the playmakers out there, let them figure it out, give them some shooting. And when we get out in transition is where, you know, it's scary sometimes.
- Your former bench mob member Jakob [INAUDIBLE]. Like, how have you see his game on [INAUDIBLE]
FRED VANVLEET: He looked good tonight, I'll tell you that much. He was just a really fun guy to play with, a great teammate, really skilled, just a good guy, and a tough cover, big body. He's really got good hands, good feet. He's smart. He knows the game.
So you know, we had great years with Jakob. He was a big part of what we did here of building this up, like you said about the bench mob. So it was just good to see him, and good to see him get the contract and be playing well for that young team over there.
- We have about two questions for you online. Go ahead, Josh.
- Hey, Fred. Obviously, there are a lot of benefits to having that smaller group, the unit that you guys have been starting on the floor. But one of the issues that you had with it in the past is rebounding.
How much does it help you be able to run that group there when Pascal is rebounding the way that he's been rebounding over the last few games? And what have you been seeing from him? What sort of a difference in terms of him crashing the glass recently?
- Yeah, again, it's not going to work without those guys being great rebounders, the three-- OG, Pascal, and Scottie. And they've been answering the challenge. [AUDIO OUT] come in, and he's a great rebounder in his own right. So, I think we just need a presence in those four slots or those positions. And those guys have been doing it.
As far as Pascal, I think he's starting to look better in his body and just his comfort level out there and, obviously, coming back from an injury. So he's starting to look strong, and physical, and aggressive, and just sticking his nose in there in the fight. And that's what you love to see. So, he's been rebounding at a really high level. And we're going to need that for our team. It's not always just points.
- Thank you, sir.
FRED VANVLEET: Thank you.
- Last one for you, Fred. Go ahead, Oren.
- Hey, Fred. Congrats on the win. You've talked this season about defending home court. And I know you don't want to make excuses about this, but having no fans in the building now, what kind of challenges does that present to the team? And over these past few games, how have you guys overcome those challenges to get wins?
FRED VANVLEET: Right now, no challenge at all. I think we're undefeated without the fans. So let's-- let's just-- we're just going to keep it going. I don't have a great answer for you there. I'm not going to dwell on that too much.
There's nothing we can do about it. I try not to worry about things I can't control. So, go out there and try to get as many wins as we can. And again, just keep building on the fact that we're stringing something together here, and we'll figure out the rest later down the line.
But sure, it's a challenge. Again, it's-- any time you're dealing with something that's 1 out of 30 teams, and we're the only team dealing with it, is what it is. But so far, so good. And we'll welcome the fans back whenever they're allowed to.
- Yeah, just following up on that, you guys are going into Milwaukee tomorrow. And you've had a few home games in a row here without fans. Do you think it's going to be weird to go into a full building in the states with, you know, a road crowd cheering against you? Like, how do you adjust to that?
FRED VANVLEET: We'll find out tomorrow night, brother. Like I said, I'm an optimist. And you know, hopefully, it doesn't affect us at all. We can go in there and build on the rhythm that we've had as a team. But you know, whatever challenges come our way, we'll try to adjust to that and try to make the most of it. So I'll probably have a better answer for you, you know, tomorrow night.
- All right, thanks. Have a good night.
FRED VANVLEET: Thank you.
- Thanks, Fred.
FRED VANVLEET: Thanks, guys.
FRED VANVLEET: Hey, no, I'm not--