The Toronto Raptors have been playing surprisingly well so far this season despite the departure of Kawhi Leonard this summer. They are currently 4th in the eastern conference with an 8-3 record. The Raptors kept their core team from the last season and their defense has been an integral part of their success so far this season. They are also playing with a chip on their shoulder to prove everybody they are still a playoff-caliber team despite the fact their best player left to play for the Clippers.
One of the surprising factors for in the Raptors success is their point guard Fred VanVleet who is having a great season so far averaging a career-high 16 points per game alongside 7.6 assists. On top of that VanVleet is logging in some serious minutes in the past couple of games which is completely different from what we've been seeing from other players who are trying to rest as much as possible.
VanVleeet played an astonishing 120 minutes of basketball in the last three games over a four-day span. In a recent interview, he talked about the current situation he is in and how the league should bring back the "anti-load management" award for the players who are showing up every night playing heavy minutes.
“I’m trying to find some iron-man incentive or award or something. Gotta bring that back. The anti-load management award. Let’s keep that going.”
His role with the team changed quite a bit and VanVleet now has more responsibility to score the ball and put the pressure on the opposing defense. This is the task VanVleet accepted and he said it will definitely help him learn more about the game itself and what he needs to do to put the Raptors in position to win more games.
“It’s been my first time being a focal point on the game plan. That’s taken some adjusting. I thought the Clippers (on Monday) did a good job of sending multiple bodies, and those are some pretty damn big guys. I didn’t have much success at the rim for multiple reasons. Being a focal point is something I’m getting adjusted to. I’m still a relatively young player in this league. There’s a learning curve there.