How will off-ball Fred VanVleet impact his 2022-23 per game stats?

The Toronto Raptors are shifting Fred VanVleet to a more off-ball role to tap into his catch and shoot jumper. Can he still be an All-Star? How will that impact his per game stats? Amit Mann is joined by Esfandiar Baraheni to discuss. Full video projecting the season averages of several Raptors is available on our Yahoo Sports Canada YouTube.

Video Transcript

AMIT MANN: Shifting to another guy who's got some shimmy to him, OK--


AMIT MANN: --Fred VanVleet. Last season--

ESFANDIAR BARAHENI: Segue king. Segue king. I like it.

AMIT MANN: Talk to me. Talk to me. Last season-- it's like a tale of two seasons for this man. But overall, for the whole season, 20 points per game, 38 minutes, 40% shooting, 37.7% from 3, 4.4 rebounds, 6.7 assists, 1.7 steals, 0.5 blocks. I include those for him because they matter.


AMIT MANN: The "stocks," right?


AMIT MANN: This man is a king at it, right? Is it a block? Is a steal? I don't know, but it all goes to the "stocks" category.

One thing I want to mention is that he shot, on the season, 43% on catch-and-shoot 3's on 4.6 attempts. Pre-All-Star, pre-All-Star, he was at 47%. So before he got hurt, he was at 47%. That is Joe Harris territory, OK? That's a very good number. And the Raptors are doubling down on that.

[? Talking ?] roles, how can we get the best of all our players? Fred VanVleet is an unbelievable shooter. Let's-- let's use that. Let's use that aspect.

ESFANDIAR BARAHENI: Yeah, Fred is, in my opinion, the toughest to gauge what his numbers will look like this season. Because we know the role is changing. How much the role changes is-- who knows?

It could be like-- you know how last year, the rule change happened. And everybody was like, oh, my god, what is James Harden and Trae Young going to do? And by the end of the season, it didn't matter because they just went back to what the rules were.


ESFANDIAR BARAHENI: There really is a case for that to happen with the Raptors where, like, look, maybe at the beginning, Fred isn't playing as much minutes. Maybe his minutes are down to 35 or 36 minutes a night. But when push comes to shove, and they-- like Nick Nurse said in the huddle, they have a close game in Miami, are we going to push Fred and play him that extra two minutes when he should probably get a rest?

It's not going to be up to them at that point. Fred is going to want to play. So I'm not sure how much his role changes. I think that will be something that is progressing throughout the season, and it will be ever-evolving.

But that being said, you are 100% right. They're probably going to set him up for more catch-and-shoot 3's. We talked about structure. I think there will be more structure and finding him open off the catch.

He's a great relocation shooter as well, up there with the Steph Currys in terms of relocation.

AMIT MANN: Unbelievable.

ESFANDIAR BARAHENI: As crazy as that sounds, he is that good at that. So yes, there's definitely going to be more opportunity for him to improve his 3-point percentage even more. I think maybe by that nature, his point total goes up. But then if the usage isn't as high, then maybe his point total stays around the same.

I could see him having a very similar statistical season. What you see now is probably what you'll see. But it will be just the fact that it'll be through a different source. He'll be finding his shots in a different way. And I think that's the main thing to take away from here.

It's like, look, his role may be changing. But I think his effectiveness will be around the same.

AMIT MANN: Hell yeah. And the field goal percentage, at 40% last season, I think that's going to go up. Because again, the shots are going to be different. He won't have that stretch like he had last season where he was the primary everything, right, when the injuries hit.

And granted, that's when he really boosted his All-Star candidacy. But the field goal percentage dipped down quite a bit. And he was asked to do things around the basket, put pressure on the rim, and finish there. And he just wasn't ready to do that necessarily.

The lean version that we're seeing now, I always wondered if that was something that was going to help him get to his peak. Because he was always in shape. That's not what we're talking about.

It's kind of like the Kyle Lowry conversation.

ESFANDIAR BARAHENI: 2016 Kyle, yeah.

AMIT MANN: Yeah, but it's like, what is your best version of yourself? Because Kyle, like, you could say his best season was 2019-20, right?


AMIT MANN: And that's when he wasn't like the 2016 version, necessarily. But he was very good. Like, that was his prime form, right? So now, is this going to be where we see Fred's best form?

Like, he doesn't necessarily have the explosion. He doesn't have the leaping ability of, like, a bobcat. Yes, I saw a National Geographic video yesterday. And I saw a bobcat do a leap. And then-- I'm still reeling off of it.

ESFANDIAR BARAHENI: That's a wild comparison.

AMIT MANN: I know.

ESFANDIAR BARAHENI: I'm like, all right, I'll take it. I'll take it.

AMIT MANN: Yeah, exactly. National Geographic, man, they got some crazy stuff. He doesn't have those. So just getting, like, those little-- kind of weird to talk about a player's body, but like, the small margins within your body, like getting a little stronger, a little bit leaner, can that help him get a little bit faster? Because he doesn't have the explosion that we're talking about, or in the traditional sense.

Like, he was never as bouncy as Kyle. He will never be as bouncy as him. It's just different body types. But he can get a little bit faster.


AMIT MANN: So I wonder if that's going to help him around the basket. And also, like, when it gets to just coming downhill in the lane, and finding your groove, and knowing where the ball has to go, he's very good at that. It's just at the rim, it's not the best.

But he knows exactly where the ball has to go in most cases, right? He knows how to-- he-- those kick passes that he makes, they're always on the [? tape. ?] He's a very smart player. You talk about relocating on shots, like, that takes intelligence, basketball IQ, understanding offenses, reading the defense. And he can do all of that.

So better opportunities around him for assists, better shooters. The pick and roll, we get back to it, keep on getting back to it-- him as a pick and roll ball handler, it's proven to be fruitful. He averaged [? 0.7 ?] [? point-- ?] pick and roll possessions last season.

And in those possessions, 0.93 points per possession. That is better than CJ McCollum. That's better than LaMelo Ball. That's better than "give me my money" Tyler Herro, OK? Better than all of them, right?

And there's something there. I saw you were talking about James Wiseman and how good he was in that game in Japan, right? And how does that happen? Because you've got Steph Curry, right?

And not taking anything away from James Wiseman. He's better, that's all good. But when you have a shooter like Steph Curry that everyone is frightened of, right, it opens up everything. Now, teams will have to switch. Now, James Wiseman has, like, a little mini-- small fry on him. Go to work, young man, right?


AMIT MANN: That kind of stuff matters. And you have Fred, who can now shoot from 25 feet. He is going to extend the defense. He is going to give teams fits at times. And you just have to do that. This season, that has to go up.

ESFANDIAR BARAHENI: Fred is the guy on the team that every defense is going to respect his shot. I think it's probably him and OG that will get the heavily contested-- they're going to be in their chest type of contest. And I think that's-- it's a huge reason you have to leave them on the court, or at least stagger their minutes and kind of split them up so that one of those guys is on the court almost all the time.

AMIT MANN: Uh-huh.

ESFANDIAR BARAHENI: Because you need that type of player spacing it out, right? Even if they're on ball, now, they draw so much attention. That's the reason you need a guy like Fred, a guy like OG that can kind of space things out for you, and be that shooter, be that threat. Yeah, I agree, man. I think it's going to be an interesting season for Fred.

I'm not sure how it does statistically. Maybe he still has an All-Star-type campaign. Who knows?


ESFANDIAR BARAHENI: But question mark, question mark, question mark with him, in my opinion. In terms of role, at least, we don't know, right?

AMIT MANN: Sure, sure, sure. And then the steals and blocks, point of attack defender, he's one of the best at it. Scrambling within the Raptors defense, he is possibly the best at it outside of OG Anunoby, who we're going to talk about after this. Maybe he's better than OG. It's a good problem. They're both very good at it.

So you can see some of those numbers maybe changing a little bit just as he has more energy, and he's expelling more of his body and his energy towards that end of the-- end of the court because offensively, less on-ball reps. That was the last thing I was going to--