Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet discusses the team's performance vs. the Hornets, Scottie Barnes and Precious Achiuwa succeeding within the Raptors offence and the urgency to win games.
- Fred, you guys made a season high 3 pointers. Maybe all that talk of the slump, being just a slump was right.
FRED VANVLEET: Hey, man. Let's have a party.
Yeah, I mean, listen, it's going even itself out one way or another. So you never want to trend too far downwards. But I thought the last couple of games, I've been shooting the ball well other than the Milwaukee game. But just keep working the offense and try to create good shots, and there's just more rhythm and energy to the offense and the way that we're sharing the ball now. So you expect some of those to go down at a higher clip or you would hope.
- You're generally on the bench, watching the group of Boucher, Achiuwa, and Koloko play. What do you see that they bring? It's sort of an odd mix, but they've been very effective.
FRED VANVLEET: Yeah, well, you hope that coach has got them in the zone. So you hope that there's room for a lot of defensive intensity and effort there around the rim and just making stuff hard and then get out in transition to put pressure on the rim. So we got to keep growing that group and keep getting them experience playing together and get more feel and more flow. I thought that they've done a great job the last two games and have some good practices, some good shootarounds, and have some good carryover. So we got to continue to grow.
And I think the more they play well, the more leash they'll get. And that's how you grow you know that bench unit. And we're going to need those guys. So I thought they did a great job again tonight.
- When it comes to how teams have been playing Scottie Barnes a little bit deeper, he's had more room to play make in the middle of the floor, what have you made of that process over the past few games and playing off of him in that capacity?
FRED VANVLEET: Oh, it's a good spot for him. I think obviously with that group that we got, he can do a lot of different things. But they're going to sag off of him just being able to play next action off of him and let him play make from there versus having them bring the ball up and try to organize the offense.
He's already catching it at playmaking position that the short roll, 17 feet. So he's a great passer, he knows the reads, he's been setting good screens and just making plays. So he had another 7 assists tonight, no turnovers. So that's great for him. We're going to need him to do that.
- How would you describe-- you guys finished the first half of the season. How would you describe the first half of the season?
FRED VANVLEET: Like the first half of the season. That's what it was. And we got to focus on the second half. So don't have a great description. So I'll just say that.
- What do you need? What do you need to change from the first half?
FRED VANVLEET: We need to win. We need to win more.
- Precious, skill wise athletically, he's just overwhelming. Sometimes it seems like he doesn't know what the moment requires on the floor. But as he gets his legs in the game, he can really just take over at times. How important is it to be patient and let him play his way in so we he can really contribute?
FRED VANVLEET: I think he's just got to find ways to be effective and find what that spot is. Just keep it simple. He's got a tremendous upside, and he'll get to that at some point. But I think for now, just to help this team, just keep it simple. And when he's catching and shooting, he's pretty good, when he's one two dribble to the rim, he's pretty good, when he's quick, decisive, he's pretty good. But there's times where he's trying things out in the flow, and you can see that. And again, coach is very patient with him. So I think it's good for him and it allows him to grow. But I think just going forward for our team to be the best it can be, I think just keeping it simple first, and then as you get the flow in the field, the talent will shine through.
- Is it like that in practice? Did he bust out those crazy dribbling combos against set defenses in practice?
FRED VANVLEET: Yeah, he's the same all the time. He's the same.
- What's the reaction there when he does that?
FRED VANVLEET: Come on, man. We love Precious.
- Fred, in most of your career, college professionally, you've been on teams that have been pretty successful. You've obviously won a lot. What have you learned about yourself kind of as a leader for a team that's still-- like you said, you have to win more in the second half of the season, and you're probably not where you want to be in the standings. What have you learned about yourself as a leader throughout this season so far?
FRED VANVLEET: I don't know. I think more so than anything, just trying to stress the little things and the little details that add up and just so many things that we do or, yeah, that we need to do as a great team would do, which is just things that come naturally. It doesn't come naturally for everyone.
So I think there's a lot of things that can get glossed over that come to bite you at the end. So there's just a lot of, I think, just paying attention to the details, being more disciplined, being more locked in and focused on playing the right way and doing things the right way. I think that will help us a lot more.
- Just in terms of the rhythm and flow of this first half of the season, I mean, you guys haven't had a three game winning streak yet. How much would it help to be able to string a few of those together?
FRED VANVLEET: Let's start on Thursday. So hopefully, we can get it started. Again, what's behind us is behind us. We got to look to the future. And hopefully, our best basketball is in front of us. We put something together and nobody will remember what the first half of the season looked like.
So we've got work to do. We've got a lot of work to do. And we haven't been great so far. But I like what we've been able to put together over the last couple of games. Thanks.