Before this season started, Toronto Raptors watch Fred VanVleet set a precedent by marking the greatest agreement for an undrafted free agent in NBA history: four years, $85 million.
On Tuesday night, VanVleet added two other records to his name by scoring 54 focuses in Toronto’s 123-108 triumph at the Orlando Magic – the most ever by an undrafted major part in NBA history, outperforming Moses Malone’s record of 53 – just as outclassing DeMar DeRozan’s single-game franchise record of 52.
“Unbelievable. I’m very humbled and honored to be in the same sentence as both of those guys,” said VanVleet, who completed the game 17-for-23 from the field, 11-for-14 from the 3-point line and 9-for-9 from the foul line. He additionally had 3 bounce back, 2 helps, 3 takes and 3 squares in a short time.
“Just a special night, obviously, a lot of different levels,” he said. “So just trying to enjoy it for now, but it’s not a championship or anything like that. It was a good game for me, and I’ll enjoy all the love for a couple hours and get ready for the next one.”
Given the manner in which VanVleet and the Raptors played all through this game, it would’ve been reasonable for somebody who didn’t see the crate score to think it simply an ordinary decent game for VanVleet. He made just those 23 efforts, and he, partner Kyle Lowry and lead trainer Nick Nurse all said it was important after the game how simple the game came to VanVleet.
VanVleet had 17 focuses in the primary quarter, 28 by halftime and afterward arrived at 46 before the finish of the second from last quarter. A couple of free tosses and three layups in the fourth permitted him to outperform both Malone and DeRozan and go into the record books.
“It was easy,” VanVleet said. “No disrespect to the Magic. But I mean, for most of those, I was open. They were in rhythm. They were clean looks. They were within the offense. That’s why I was able to remain patient and still pass out of double-teams and not take bad shots because of the way I got all my points. There were maybe one or two quick, bad shots, if that.
“Most of those were in rhythm, within the offense, playing in the flow of the game; and I even told the guys, ‘You guys, keep playing.’ I could feel them start to look for me to the point where they weren’t looking at the rim anymore. I wanted to win more than I wanted 50 points. Just trying to continue to play with a pure heart and let the game come to me, and I was rewarded for that.”
The record-setting basin dropped with 3 minutes, 46 seconds staying in the final quarter when VanVleet made a layup that came, fittingly, off a help from his dear companion – and backcourt accomplice – Lowry.
VanVleet said a while later that DeRozan, his previous colleague, would message him each time he had a major event beforehand and that DeRozan would prod him for not getting the record of 52 focuses. After the game, DeRozan posted a tweet complimenting VanVleet – and furthermore singling out Lowry for not doing it without anyone else’s help, saying the veteran was “excessively old” to do as such.
As far as it matters for him, Lowry concurred.
“I seen DeMar sent out the tweet saying I was too old to get it, and I am,” Lowry said with a smile. “But my two guys, DeMar and Freddie, have the records, and even Terrence [Ross] is in there, and I was able to witness all three of those 50-point games. They all are special to me.
“Tonight is really special, because it came from a kid who was undrafted, worked his way to an NBA player and an NBA starter, and possibly this year an All-Star and possibly an All-Defensive Player. That’s what makes it really special.”
VanVleet said later that DeRozan called him on FaceTime to praise him while the group was in the storage space. He said DeRozan was at the forefront of his thoughts as he had a go at pursuing down the establishment record in the final quarter.
“[He was] just congratulating me, reminding me again that I was gonna get cussed out if I didn’t beat his record,” VanVleet said. “We’ve had that conversation a few times when I’ve had big games and I’ve had a chance to go for it. In the past, I’ve kind of shied away from being thirsty, so tonight, just tried to keep my foot on the gas a little bit more.”
While VanVleet eventually couldn’t pursue down either Donyell Marshall’s single-game establishment record of 12 3-pointers made or Klay Thompson’s NBA record of 14, he absolutely didn’t have any issue getting into the progression of the offense. VanVleet went 5-for-5 from 3-point range in the main quarter alone, prior to making three more in both the second and third quarters.
VanVleet got one look from the wing to tie Marshall’s record in the fourth yet missed it. He was eliminated from the game a brief timeframe later with the records secure and the game well close by.
What was essential, nonetheless, was how much his colleagues and Nurse commended his achievement. VanVleet himself even conceded they were more amped up for it than him. Medical caretaker and Lowry wondered about the work VanVleet has placed in since going undrafted from Wichita State to now astounding records set by an establishment symbol in DeRozan and a Hall of Famer in Malone.
“Man, I think it’s an incredible statement,” Nurse said. “I mean, it’s incredible to be an undrafted guy and to do that. It really is. It’s incredible.
“He’s got a pedigree for winning every team he’s been on his whole life. He took a smaller mid-major university to incredible seasons, obviously had that Game 6 fourth quarter in the championship finals — but again undrafted and tremendous just competitor, worker, thinker, all that stuff.”