Despite recent injuries, the Toronto Raptors have had an incredible 14-game winning streak, with Fred VanVleet being a crucial part of the team’s franchise-record run.
And this 2020 team has come so far from where they were less than a year ago after winning their historic NBA Championship title.
“Starting off the year, we had to redevelop our identity,” VanVleet told Daily Hive. “We knew who we were, but I think that there was a transitional period. We changed so much last year and to lose Kawahi (Leonard) and Danny (Green), we had to change again. There were ups and downs, a lot of injuries, but I think now we are hitting a little stride of playing really well and finding ways to win.”
The 25-year-old knows a thing or two about winning. VanVleet led the Raptors to victory over the weekend against the Brooklyn Nets, ending the game with an impressive 29 points. With Kyle Lowry, Norman Powell, and Marc Gasol out with injuries, that hasn’t seemed to phase the Raptors.
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“We’re in a good spot now but obviously it’s a long way to go, so we have to continue to say consistent,” said VanVleet, adding he’s been feeling good about the team.
Since signing with the Raptors back in 2016, the Illinois native has lived in Toronto each season. VanVleet spends winters in the city, the northern cold doesn’t seem to bother him much.
“Unfortunately we don’t spend summers here, but other than that we spend the majority of the year here. The city has welcomed my family, my kids, we spent a ton of time here,” he said.
“This is our home and we love it here. We like it even though we spend most of the winters here.”
And that’s a big statement.
VanVleet said he enjoys the people in Toronto, “and the food is good.”
While Toronto is known for being a foodie city, it’s also a fashion centre. And the Raptors definitely got style.
Serge Ibaka is the best dressed on the team, according to VanVleet, who is also always stylin’.
“We got some guys that clean up nice,” he said. “I think everybody has their own different style.”
On the court, VanVleet’s style includes rocking AND1s, a basketball shoe that he’s also helped launch here in Canada. VanVleet said that the brand had shown interest in him since the start of his career, and he decided to partner up with them last fall.
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“We both believe in the same things and they’ve shown tremendous support and belief in me and what i stand for, it made perfect sense,” he said.
Heading into the NBA All Star break, VanVleet said he is looking forward to tune up for the last month and a half of the season, and getting ready for the playoffs.
He said the team’s focus will be to try “to close the gap and fight for playoff position so that we can maintain home court.”
And of course, another focus will be “having the chance to win another championship.”
“All the pressure and all the marbles on the line, I think that’s what we thrive in,” said VanVleet. “And I think we have as good a chance as anybody to go and repeat.”
The Raptors will be looking for their 15th straight win as they play the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night.