How Fred VanVleet Went From Undrafted To The Most In-Demand Free Agent

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Again in 2016, Fred VanVleet was ending up a stellar faculty professional. His Wichita State Shockers made the Last 4 his freshman season, then had an undefeated common season the next yr. VanVleet was named Missouri Valley Convention Participant of the Yr in each 2014 and 2016 and got here into the NBA Draft with loads of momentum.

But because the draft went on, no one chosen VanVleet. The six-footer was projected to be a second-round draft choose, although he hoped to both rises as much as the late first spherical or no less than the early second. By the center of the second spherical, VanVleet decided that finally could earn him a nine-digit contract.

He began telling groups to not draft him.

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Mid-to-late second-round picks are likely to have robust paths towards the NBA. Many both do not get signed and take a chance abroad or be part of the G-League to work on their recreation. Groups that have been enthusiastic about VanVleet instructed him they’d take the latter route, making it unlikely VanVleet would safe a roster spot.

That honesty helped encourage VanVleet — who grew up sharing garments along with his brothers — to make a wager on himself. As an alternative to hoping he’d be drafted, VanVleet loved bottles of champagne as he watched each group cross on him. That summertime, he performed properly within the Summer season League and signed a small two-year cope with the Toronto Raptors, price rather less than $1.9 million.

VanVleet performed properly as a backup in Toronto. He did not begin a single recreation these first two seasons, however, he was a strong contributor off the bench, even capturing a career-high 41.four % in his second yr.

After his first two seasons, VanVleet signed a two-year, $18 million to remain in Toronto. He probably might have made more cash elsewhere, however knew what he might do with the Raptors.

He additionally could not have recognized that the group would quickly commerce for Kawhi Leonard. Instantly, VanVleet took on a much bigger function — with a discount contract — because the Raptors loved one other profitable season. VanVleet performed 7.5 extra minutes per recreation and made some clutch pictures through the playoffs.

VanVleet and the Raptors received the 2019 championship. And when Leonard left that offseason, VanVleet scored main enjoying time. Throughout the 2019-20 season, VanVleet posted professional highs in minutes performed, factors, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks per recreation.

In his memoir The Sixth Man, Andre Iguodala writes how NBA contracts are actually designed to reward gamers for what they’ve beforehand achieved. He cites how Steph Curry’s $201 million deal wasn’t for the following 5 years. Somewhat, it was making up for him being on a discount deal — 4 years, $44 million — whereas main the Warriors to success.

In VanVleet’s case, it could be a little bit of each. He is nonetheless simply 26 years previous and coming off his greatest season but. The Raptors probably do not win a championship the yr earlier than without him. But wherever he finally ends up signing, that group will anticipate him to carry out at a good increased degree.

Nonetheless, in simply 4 years, VanVleet went from somebody who wasn’t even assured a roster spot to a participant set to earn $80 million to $100 million in his subsequent contract. And that is one thing he is dreamed about since enjoying ball as a child.

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