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That’s A Rap #169: VanVleet’s bet is paying off

What seemed like a pipe dream not too long ago is now reality: Fred VanVleet is an All-Star. Not to be outshone, the Raptors are playing with renewed confidence and a belief that they can beat any team!

Chicago Bulls v Toronto Raptors Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images

Fred VanVleet is an All-Star!

Let those words sink in a little longer. Between midnight and 2:00 a.m. after the NBA draft, Shams and Woj fill our Twitter timelines with lesser-known, un-drafted players signing Summer League or non-guaranteed contracts. In 2016, one of those names was Fred VanVleet. Fast forward five and a half years, FVV has won two championships (D League and NBA), holds the franchise record for points in a game (54), is the unquestioned leader of a solid Toronto Raptors squad, and is now an All-Star! It’s been a helluva ride for Steady Freddy. Raptors fans and former teammates couldn’t be happier with Rockford Illinois’ finest — he bet on himself and WON!

The rest of the reserves were named and, while Pascal Siakam’s name wasn’t called, All-Star weekend will have a good amount of Raptors representation. Jay and I dive into all things All-Star before gawking over Toronto’s recent hot streak! Enjoy the latest episode of That’s A Rap.

In This Episode:

7:15 — Undrafted to All-Star

VanVleet’s story is an amazing, uplifting, and borderline unbelievable tale that gets more implausible each day. Every time it seems like he hits a ceiling, he breaks through it and reaches for a higher height. His progression has been satisfying to witness because the rest of the league has noticed.

23:00 — East Reserves

You’ve heard me preach for the last two weeks that Pascal Siakam is deserving of an All-Star spot. His recent play has only furthered that agenda. Unfortunately, the other 14 East coaches didn’t feel the same, despite Siakam’s outstanding performances in the three games (Hawks + Heat x 2) during the window when they had their voting ballots in hand. Raptors rivals aside, Jayson Tatum and Khris Middleton should not have been named All-Stars over Jarrett Allen and LaMelo Ball (and Siakam, of course).

30:15 — West Reserves

Maybe Andrew Wiggins’ selection wasn’t so bad after all? The number of snubs in the West is not as egregious (with respect to Dejounte Murray and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander). But these are the opinions of one grumpy writer. Please feel free to chime in with your gripes in the comments below.

42:45 — Hitting stride

The Raptors hit the 50-game mark of the season with, arguably, one of the most dangerous starting lineups in the East. The greatest trick Toronto ever pulled was convincing everyone they were small! Good luck scoring or passing against five inflatable waving tube men! With both Siakam and VanVleet commanding the offense like an All-NBA duo, and Gary Trent Jr. shooting like the rim’s wider than a reversible Gucci sweater, the Raptors are pushing the limits on what can be accomplished this season.