Raptors’ Fred VanVleet looks to continue hot start vs. Pistons

Raptors’ Fred VanVleet looks to continue hot start vs. Pistons

Now in his sixth NBA season, Toronto Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet has never been an All-Star. That could change before long.

VanVleet is averaging 19.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 7.1 assists for the Raptors, who face the visiting Detroit Pistons on Saturday.

The former Wichita State star leads the league in minutes played (38.6 per game) while shooting 43.5 percent from the field and 39.6 percent from 3-point range.

He bolstered his All-Star campaign on Thursday, making six 3-pointers and scoring 32 points in a 115-109 win over the Philadelphia 76ers.

«I definitely would like to be an All-Star,» said VanVleet. «I want to win all the awards. I want to be All-Defensive. Those are all goals that I have. The good thing for me is that I probably won’t achieve any of those if we aren’t a good team or a top team.»

Before heading out for a six-game road trip, the Raptors host a rebuilding Pistons squad that has dropped nine of its first 11 contests.

Detroit committed 23 turnovers in Friday’s 98-78 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, who led by as many as 27 in the fourth quarter.

Pistons head coach Dwane Casey, who coached Toronto for seven seasons from 2011-18, remained optimistic after the latest loss.

«We have a young team — not to make excuses,» Casey said. «It’s growing pains. It’ll come. We have to figure it out.»

Guard Jerami Grant is averaging 18.7 points and five rebounds to lead Detroit, which won all three meetings against Toronto last season.

The Pistons boast a promising core that includes No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham, who recorded nine points and six rebounds in Friday’s loss but committed a season-high seven turnovers.

The Pistons entered the contest ranked last in the league in scoring (96.6 points per game) and were held to a season-low point total in Friday’s loss.

Detroit played without forward Kelly Olynyk, who suffered an MCL sprain in his left knee in Wednesday’s win over the Houston Rockets and will be sidelined for at least six weeks.

The Pistons are hoping forward Isaiah Stewart takes a step forward in Olynyk’s absence. The second-year pro had two points and seven rebounds in 24 minutes on Friday.

The Raptors are expected to have Pascal Siakam back in the lineup after the forward was held out of Thursday’s game due to «injury management.»

The 6-foot-8 Siakam has averaged 27.5 minutes in two games since returning to the team following offseason shoulder surgery.

Siakam’s absence has provided an opportunity for 6-foot-9 forward Chris Boucher, who scored a season-high 17 points in 24 minutes in Thursday’s win over Philadelphia.

Boucher has 11 blocks in 13 games while solidifying his place in the Raptors’ crowded frontcourt, which includes Siakam along with Precious Achiuwa, Khem Birch and Yuta Watanabe.

«There’s a lot of guys who can do a lot of different things on this team,» Boucher said. «I’ve just got to find my role, where to take my shots, and find my confidence that I had last year. I think (Thursday) was a big step for me in finding that confidence again and realizing the way that I have to play.»

–Field Level Media