Fred VanVleet
Fred VanVleet is the Raptors best player and they cannot allow him to leave in free agency. VanVleet is the heartbeat of this Raptors team. (Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

After losing to the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, there a lot of tough decisions looming for the Raptors. If you don’t include the obvious choice of letting Marc Gasol walk, Toronto has two things they need to accomplish. Do they bring back Serge Ibaka, and what will he command on the open market? The other isn’t a decision, but it might be for them. The Raptors cannot allow Fred VanVleet to leave.

The Raptors can’t let VanVleet leave because he’s their best player. It is sure as hell is NOT disappearing act Pascal Siakam. It’s not cry baby Kyle Lowry either. I’m not sure I ever saw this day coming, but a guy named Fred is the best player on an NBA team.

VanVleet was criminally underrated at Wichita State. VanVleet lifted a mid-major program to the point where we just expected them to win a bunch of games in the NCAA Tournament. That’s not the case without this crafty point guard. Don’t ask me how this guy didn’t get drafted. The reality is, he’s always been a damn good player.

VanVleet doesn’t have the greatest pure shooting percentage (41.3%), but a vast majority of his shots come from three-point range where he knocks down 39% percent of his attempts. His pure shooting percentage is much higher because of that. Shooting will never be the issue.

For a smaller point guard, VanVleet is so strong and knows how to shield defenders at the basket. The former Wichita State point guard shot 55% at the rim this year. The bottom line is, VanVleet scored 17.6 points per game and brings such a tough, gritty edge to this Raptors team.

I want players on my team that raise their game when it counts in the postseason. Can I trust you to be on the floor in a vital playoff game to make smart decisions and hit shots? I don’t care about anything else; VanVleet checks all the boxes.

Defends well for his position? CHECK.

Can hit a three? Check.

Makes smart decisions on the break? Toronto was the number one team in points off turnovers. CHECK.

Will not back down from anyone? CHECK.

You don’t let this guy leave. Once again, VanVleet brought it when it counted. VanVleet was undeniably the second-best player on the Raptors championship team a year ago. Now without Kawhi Leonard, nobody played better than VanVleet for Toronto. 19.6 points per game, including a ballsy Game 7 performance when nobody else showed up.

Fred couldn’t beat the Celtics by himself. Nor should he be able to. All I know is the Raptors cannot let this man leave. Do whatever you have to do. Find a way to move the $31 million coming to Kyle Lowry money if you have to. Fred VanVleet is the Raptors best player and needs to be their priority.

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