To little surprise, Toronto Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet would rather be playing basketball than sitting on the sidelines.
Following a few weeks of dealing with knee soreness, VanVleet returned to the Raptors lineup Wendnesday against San Antonio, putting up 26 points, two rebounds, and six assists in his return, a 119-104 win over the Spurs.
Sitting out five straight games, VanVleet’s vocal presence on the sidelines had been a talking point of late, even appearing to pick up some coaching duties following a Nick Nurse ejection last week.
But VanVleet said being loud on the bench is nothing new to him.
“I think I’ve kind of been the same voice for most of my career, other than my rookie year. Obviously, everything was new for me, [and I was] learning and trying to figure out what was going on. But once I had a hold of the game, that’s kind of how all those relationships developed, especially me and Kyle [Lowry], and DeMar [DeRozan], and those guys… I would just be talking to them the entire game and being active on the bench, bringing energy and talking to the coaches.”
VanVleet admitted it was a little tough to be on the sidelines with the injury.
“I didn’t have as many headaches as a young player, as I did over last week trying to coach and help the team without being on the court,” VanVleet joked. “So that that’s a good thing. It’s way more fun to be out there on the court to be honest.”
The Raptors had dropped three straight games prior to VanVleet’s return, while also dealing with the absences of OG Anunoby and Malachi Flynn. Currently, they sit seventh in the Eastern Conference standings, three games back of a sixth-place spot that would allow them to bypass the NBA’s play-in round.
“It’s definitely been an adventure,” VanVleet added of the team’s challenges of figuring out how to construct different lineups with their injuries. “We said that in the beginning of the year, it’s gonna be a learning curve and kind of figure out where we can be good.”
The Raptors are next on the road in Phoenix, taking on the first-place Suns tomorrow night. Tipoff is set for 9 pm ET.