Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet has picked up many distinctions in his career: NBA champion, all-star, the highest paid undrafted player in league history, and now… coach?
In the midst of a career year, VanVleet has been sidelined the last three games with a knee injury.
But when Raptors coach Nick Nurse was ejected following his second technical foul in Thursday night’s matchup against the Detroit Pistons, there suddenly was a chance for the always-vocal VanVleet to step up again.
— Adam Laskaris (@adam_la2karis) March 4, 2022
Nurse was ejected with 2:27 left in the third quarter after arguing a follow call on Dalano Banton, with the Raptors trailing 88-72.
“We appreciate it him going to bat for us and fighting,” Pascal Siakam said postgame.
Nurse’s staff, led by assistant Adrian Griffin, picked up some of the slack in his absence, but Raptors fans were quick to point out how VanVleet quickly seemed to take an even more vocal role along the sidelines, calling out plays and directing traffic for his teammates.
LOL FRED NEED TO COACH THE TEAM NOW
— Jordan A. Hayles (@MR_STiXX) March 4, 2022
Raptors coach Nick Nurse has been ejected and replaced by assistant coach Fred Vanvleet pic.twitter.com/DB145pMlt1
— Alice (@ArmoAlice) March 4, 2022
— RAPTORS ARGENTO (34-28) (@ArgRaptors) March 4, 2022
Coach Fred VanVleet approves pic.twitter.com/Kkvn7r3n9r
— Mando (@mando5000) March 4, 2022
Interim coach Fred VanVleet.
— Virtual Fan in Jurassic Park 🇧🇧🇨🇦🏀 (@CondensePapi) March 4, 2022
VanVleet’s teammates couldn’t quite pull of the win for him, though. Despite an impressive comeback, the Raptors fell 108-106 to the Pistons. Amazingly, it’s the sixth loss in a row for the Raptors against the Pistons (and third this season), who are coached by former Toronto boss Dwane Casey.
While his NBA career should have plenty of mileage left on it, some even speculated that VanVleet could be taking over as the full-time coach one day.
lol look at Coach Fred cheering Precious on, this dude is destined to be a head coach some day
— Irtaza🦖👑 (@BigRingRaps) March 4, 2022
fred vanvleet will be the coach of the toronto raptors in the future. bookmark this.
— Scottie Hightower (@DeeksHightower) March 4, 2022
With the loss, the Raptors fell to 34-28 on the season, and currently sit in seventh place in the Eastern Conference. They’ll be right back at it Friday night though, with a matchup against the Orlando Magic tipping off at 7:30 pm at Scotiabank Arena.