If you, like me, were hoping to see a full-strength Raptors roster come together and start establishing a championship-level chemistry at some point — any point! — this season, well, I invite you to join me in exclaiming the following:
This feeling of utter helplessness and despair comes from the news out of Raptorland that Fred VanVleet will need surgery on his injured thumb, and will miss five weeks:
Now, the Jermey Lin signing is imminent, so that’s good news on the backup front. But that’s about all the hopefulness that can be found in this situation.
Five weeks puts VanVleet’s return towards the end of March, meaning the Raptors would have approximately 10 games to work him back into the rotation (and for him to work himself back in to game shape). The Raptors are in a good position now, at 42-16 and in second place in the East, so they have a nice cushion and have thus far weathered a spate of injuries extremely well.
But no matter how you slice it, this news stinks.
VanVleet has split time starting (in place of injuries and rest days for Kyle Lowry and Kawhi Leonard) and off the bench this season, and has played his share of minutes with Lowry and Leonard in the lineup too. He’s averaging 10.5 points and 4.6 assists in almost 27 minutes per game; his shooting his been a bit streaky, and his three-point percentage is off against his performance last year, but his steadyness and fearlessness are always welcome on the floor.
It’s also interesting to point out that, while I am no doctor and I don’t even pretend to play one on the Internet, this injury sounds very similar to the one Jonas Valanciunas suffered earlier this season. That injury kept Valanciunas sidelined for almost exactly eight weeks, so we have to hope that VanVleet’s injury isn’t the same and the five weeks is accurate. If it is in fact closer to eight weeks, well, that keeps VanVleet on the shelf until the start of the playoffs, to which, again, I must exclaim...
By the way, you don’t think there are some karmic forces at work, here, do you? As in, the Raptors sold their soul by trading away all these guys that they developed from young wisps into real basketball talent for a couple of hired guns, and firing their coach for his assistant, and now the basketball gods are punishing the Raptors because of it? That Masai Ujiri put all this negative energy into the universe this past summer when he said the team they’d built wasn’t cutting it and he couldn’t just keep doing the same thing, and now that negative energy is coming back to haunt the Raptors in the form of injury?
No? OK. Just checking...