Raptors guard Fred VanVleet is neither frustrated nor encouraged by the way the team has played this week. He praised his squad for playing hard in the loss against the Mavericks, but isn’t allowing himself to feel “too high or too low” about this moment.
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- Right, you can go ahead, Justine.
- Thanks, Phil. Hi, Fred. We have a couple questions here for you. We'll start with Doug.
- Hey, Fred, you all right there?
FRED VANVLEET: Yes, sir.
- All right. Hey, same question I asked Nick. It's been a tough week, but is it more frustrating or promising?
FRED VANVLEET: Probably neither.
FRED VANVLEET: Yeah, not very frustrated. I mean, got to understand the circumstances here. But I'm not really into moral victories. So that would probably answer your second part of your question. Again, I think all of these games have been winnable. You know, I'm not the type to dwell on it or be inspired by it. I think we play good basketball, good spots. It takes a lot more to win in this league, and we're learning that as a team. And you take your lumps, and you move on to the next one.
- That's a very unique attitude, and I'm just wondering how you can impart that to your teammates. You've got to let what just happened go and not be looking forward to what's going to happen because you don't know.
FRED VANVLEET: It's the NBA, man. You move on. It's short-term memory. Tonight we fought hard. I thought that we stayed together. We fought hard. We left it all on the court. It was a tough shooting night. Luka had his way.
So we'll look at the film. I think we're practicing tomorrow. So we'll see how we can get better and move on to the next one. But it's a part of being in the NBA. It's not getting too high or too low. It's all good practice for the long run. And I'll take this one myself. I shoot better. I make a couple more shots-- we probably sneak out of here with a win tonight.
- Yeah, that's true, but if you don't make-- you had shots to win. The team had shots to win. It didn't happen. Yeah, right? But I'm just wondering. You're only playing seven guys, really six. Justin's not getting a lot of run. Is it wearing you down? Is it sustainable? Is it mentally hard? Like, what is it to have to go out and give 40 minutes of really gutsy play every single night?
FRED VANVLEET: Unless you know something I don't know, Dougie, this is what we got, man. There's no help on the way. So we're in a fight. We're grinding it out. We got high-character guys, guys that work extremely hard. We've got a great medical team, a great organization. And we're doing everything we can to be ready to play every night.
I think we're getting good performances from the guys that we're playing. And this is what we got until otherwise. So we're in the mix right now. We lost a couple ones that we could have won. But you know, it'll bounce back. It'll go the other way on some of these nights as well. So you just got to hope that over time, these things will smooth out.
- Excellent. Thanks as always, Fred. Safe trip up to Washington.
FRED VANVLEET: Thanks, Doug.
- And next, we'll go to Josh.
- Hey, Fred. Understanding the no moral victories, what are you guys able to take from the crunch-time reps, the late-game reps against good teams?
FRED VANVLEET: I thought we executed pretty well. I thought we came up with big stops when we needed to. Couldn't keep them off the foul line tonight in certain spots. It was tough. So that was a little hard. We missed the offensive rebounds, but we made some plays. I think we've been repping out our late-game execution in practices and shootarounds and stuff. So we're getting the looks that we want to get. We got to continue to grow in that area.
But we just stayed together. We kept fighting. There was a stretch there where we could have let go of the rope a little bit. They went up 7. We fought back. We took the lead, and I think Luka made a spin to get a layup there. So we hung in there. I think there's growing areas all around the board for a lot of different guys, and that's all you can ask for.
- Are you guys further ahead offensively or defensively in those kind of late-game execution situations?
FRED VANVLEET: That's a tough question. I don't know. I thought tonight it was about even. Again, I think any time you get into the bonus with 9:17 in the fourth quarter, it's drastically going to change the way you approach the defensive end. So I was happy with our execution defensively in certain areas late because we couldn't touch anybody at that point. So I think that changed the landscape of how we were guarding. But again, it's a tough one. You take your lumps, and you move on.
- Thanks, Fred. Safe flight.
FRED VANVLEET: Thanks, Josh.
- And next up is Stephen.
- Hey, Fred. It's good to see you. You mentioned you had, like, an off shooting night. Did fatigue play a factor at all in that off shooting night?
FRED VANVLEET: Yeah, I mean, I don't really make excuses. I think you guys know that about me. I didn't shoot it well enough tonight. I don't have many of these in the season. There's a handful. I try to make them as few as possible. But you guys watch the game. I'll let you make of that what you will. I'm definitely not going to make any excuses here. I've got to be better. And like I told Doug, I think if I make a couple more shots, we probably sneak out of here with a win.
- All right. Thanks a lot, Fred.
FRED VANVLEET: Thanks.
- And next, we have Vivek.
- Hey, Fred. Last year at the halfway stage of the season, you said you learned that you're not as patient as you thought. How have the lumps of last season maybe helped you sort of maybe have that patience with the young guys this season?
FRED VANVLEET: I think it's just a completely different team and a different makeup and different situation. So again, you just got to keep learning in this league and in life in general. But I'm gonna learn to be more patient with the ups and the downs.
There's times to be impatient, and there's times to show it. So again, just keeping this team level-headed and understanding that there's a lot of ups and downs to the season, and we're a good team. We're a really good team. And we have to continue to grow and get better.
And I think the makeup of this team is going to allow for certain ups and downs at certain times. And we lost a couple, but I'm confident that we'll get back on the right track soon.
- And Nick was asked if he's encouraged by competing with the likes of Phoenix, Milwaukee, Miami, Dallas, or discouraged with not coming away with more wins. He said he was encouraged. Do you feel the same way?
FRED VANVLEET: Yes. Yes, I think we've shown there's something here for sure. Now how do you polish that up and package that up and support that and build that? Whatever that is that we've shown, I think we've got to continue to grow it and build it.
Again, we have a great chemistry. We have young guys that are growing. We have proven players. We have guys trying to take that next step, going from good to great. We've got a little bit of everything. And we just got to continue to mold it and grow it and understand the big picture.
So for a guy like myself, I'm just using a lot of these as practice. And some of these tough nights and getting the box and ones and different coverages, just using it to polish my game up for playoffs going forward.
- Thank you, Fred.
FRED VANVLEET: Thanks.
- And last question for you here Fred, we have Adam.
- Hey, Fred. I'm just wondering, the guys who are a bit further down in the rotation and aren't getting as much run time, sort of what's your message as a leader on this team to those guys in order to work their way back into the rotation?
FRED VANVLEET: Yeah, it's tough, man. It's tough. I think, again, they should just understand the situation, understand the opportunity. You know, these things swing back and forth. The way the season goes, there's a lot of ups and downs. And I think whenever that next opportunity comes for those guys, they should have a different approach than whatever they had previously.
I think you've got to show a lot of guts and confidence. And your off days, you keep working to continue to get better. And when you get your next chance, you go out there, and you let it fly. And you go play like your hair's on fire, and play it like it's your last opportunity.
So all of those guys are capable. We're searching, and we're going to need more help along the way. And I'm confident that any one of those guys can step up and make big plays for us. So they just got to stay locked in, stay ready, and stay confident.
- All right, thanks, Fred.
FRED VANVLEET: Thank you. Thanks, guys.
- Thanks, Fred.