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'Underrated' Raptors star Fred VanVleet praised by Blazers coach Chauncey Billups

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The Toronto Raptors fell to the Portland Trailblazers 114-105 on Sunday night, despite rallying back from a 34-point deficit and being down only four in the last two minutes. Chauncey Billups, head coach of the Blazers, lauded the Raptors for their resilience and specifically heaped praise on Fred VanVleet, stating that he's slept on by NBA fans.

“He’s just so under-appreciated, to me, by the league. I think he’s maybe the most underrated player in the game," Billups told reporters. “He can do it all. Gotta give him credit for being as good as he is. A lockdown defender. He’s a big shot taker and maker.

"He’s able to manipulate defences with his skill set and his IQ and most players who can do those types of things, those are the superstars around here,” Billups added. “So give him the credit he deserves. He’s tough as nails. I’ve been proud of watching him develop and continue to get better and better and just lead.”

Trail Blazers coach Chauncey Billups shared some kind words about Raptors guard Fred VanVleet. (Photos via Getty)
Trail Blazers coach Chauncey Billups shared some kind words about Raptors guard Fred VanVleet. (Photos via Getty)

The Hall of Fame candidate's words are well received, with fans and pundits alike lobbying for the 27-year-old VanVleet to be an all-star this February. On the season, VanVleet is averaging 21.7 points and 7.0 assists per game, while shooting 39.3% from beyond the arc. Not to mention his league-leading 38.2 minutes per game.

Toronto’s team success, however, will play a pivotal role in deciding whether VanVleet is a first-time all-star or not. The Raptors are ninth in the Eastern Conference — with a record of 22-22 — and sit 2.5 games back of the Hornets for the seventh spot.

VanVleet and the Raptors will look to bounce back against those very Hornets on Tuesday night. You can bet Billups will be watching from afar, or catching the highlights at the very least.

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