Fred VanVleet's comfort in himself meshes well with Raptors

On the debut episode of our new Raptors show, "Strictly Hoops with C.J. Miles," the former Raptor sheds light on the rarity of Fred VanVleet's humility and willingness to sacrifice for the betterment of the team. The full episode can be listened to on the "Raptors Over Everything" podcast feed or watched on our Yahoo Sports Canada YouTube channel.

Video Transcript

AMIT MANN: But for another player, I mean, like, you guys-- you guys-- I don't want to say it like that. But NBA players, they get into the NBA because of their skill set, because of how good they are. And in a lot of cases, when they do get into a role, in like that starter role, sixth man, seventh man, it's because of their scoring prowess.

Maybe the league's a little bit different now. But you come into the league being elite scorers. And a team coming to you saying, do less of that, please-- hard?

CJ MILES: So I think it's hard when you don't know yourself, like, for real, and think that's the only value you can bring. Then it's hard, like, if you know what I mean, like, if you don't have a real grasp on yourself as a player, and can't figure out-- and can't see the whole team, like, the whole picture, which means you probably don't see yourself either, if you can't see where you fit in the whole team. So that's where that becomes hard. Because then it just becomes strictly about me.

And don't get me wrong, this is a job. I understand it. And you produce, you make money, especially in that sixth man-type role. That's very hard to be in, if somebody comes to you to do that, like, if you haven't played a bunch of years or haven't gained a reputation. So it's a tough space, like, especially on the younger side of things.

Like, Fred has also been to the mountaintop, also knows what it takes to get there, also knows the things that can-- you know what I mean? So it's a different mindset he has. But that younger guy that's trying to figure it out, that's a tough space to be in. Because it's going to bleed over into your approach to the game.


CJ MILES: Like, it might make you less aggressive. And then you're not even capitalizing on what you should capitalize on. Or it might make you bitter, and you try to overcapitalize, you know what I mean, to prove you-- to prove that they shouldn't have did it to you. And it's a tricky space to be in, to figure out yourself and team in such a production-dominated sport for your living.

AMIT MANN: Right. He does it, though. Again, like, the rapport that he has with Masai, Bobby, the Raptors organization is the prevailing ethic of this. That's why Fred believes that things are going to be just fine. He's going to get his contract. And it's going to be hefty. And he deserves every single dollar.

The ways he impacts the game, it's no different than Kyle Lowry, right? And when Raptor fans on Twitter are saying, you guys don't know how valuable he is when he has a stat line of, like, 9, 4, and 7, right, but he's a plus 11 or plus 20, right, it's not something that everyone can wrap their heads around. Because that's not what we're-- what we're being trained to view as basketball fans. Numbers are what matter.

But Fred, I mean, kudos to him, man. He sees the potential of Scottie Barnes. We'll talk about Scottie Barnes on many occasions throughout the season, not as much today. But a credit to him for accepting this role and being the do-it-all man. Like I said, he's a producer.

Pascal, lead singer. He's a producer. And that is not a slight. That means that he is that irreplaceable. You can find lead singers in the NBA in some ways. I'm not saying Pascal's replaceable. I'm not saying that. But--

CJ MILES: Yeah, I understand.

AMIT MANN: --yeah, lead singers are kind of easier to find than, like, that producer, that guy.

CJ MILES: Well, you can definitely-- you can find guys with the ego of--


CJ MILES: --the lead singer. There's plenty of those. You can always find a guy who wants to be the lead singer.


CJ MILES: You can't always find a guy who wants to be the producer. And we're agreeing. I'm just saying that's a--


CJ MILES: --a better way to word it, a little bit. Like, you can always find-- there's plenty of guys right now that don't even play that think they're the lead singer. Like, you know what I mean? Like, so ego is not a short--


CJ MILES: --it's not on a short list in the association.