The Raptors and Sixers are playing in (checks notes) Tampa tonight, and it’s been a hell of a first half of basketball.
Toronto has had a slow start to the season but they came to play this evening against the current top team in the East. The Raptors are currently sixth, but only five games behind Philadelphia for the top spot in a muddled and condensed conference, so it’s a big night for them against the Sixers, who have Joel Embiid and everyone else playing, too.
So in a game where every point could matter, this ridiculous shot from Fred VanVleet is definitely worth highlighting.
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) February 22, 2021
Ignoring the justifiably exuberant call from the TSN crew, that’s just such a great play from VanVleet. The shot itself clearly had some luck; it was a heave that went in off the glass, after all, so let’s not ignore that factor.
But there’s so much of it that wasn’t luck. VanVleet doesn’t get caught standing still in the corner; for one thing. As soon as the ball is touched by a defender VanVleet springs into motion, picking up where the loose ball will go and sprinting directly there, beating Shake Milton to the spot.
From there, VanVleet goes right into the only shooting motion he could contort himself into at that moment, because he knows the shot clock is about to expire. That’s incredible awareness on all counts. And, then, while the shot did bank in high off the window, just getting the shot on target and on line from that pickup and turnaround heave is absolutely a display of skill. That it went in might be luck, but VanVleet had to do a lot just to give the ball the opportunity to fall in.
The result: three points for Toronto in a big regular season game, off a chance not many other players in the league would have been able or willing to create. It’s one play doubling as a microcosm as to why VanVleet went from undrafted free agent to signing a very deserved $85 million deal in free agency last fall.