It's been a rough past few weeks for Fred VanVleet.
After playing at an All-Star caliber level for the first half of the season, the second half of the year hasn't been too kind to the Toronto Raptors' guard. He's seen his stats fall off fairly significantly and he just doesn't seem to have the same kind of energy he had for the first part of the year.
It's hard to distinguish how much of VanVleet's struggles lately are based on his performance and skill level compared to his injuries and his continued recovery from COVID-19. He's been battling a hip nagging hip injury for the past couple of weeks and an MRI he underwent suggested there was a little bit more wear and tear from this season than just his hip problem. That's in addition to whatever COVID-19 issues he's dealing with even if he can't say for sure what's been plaguing him.
It's created a misery cocktail for VanVleet who said Tuesday that he's feeling like "sh*t" these days.
“I try to lay my body on the line every night, sacrifice for the team, and get a win, but I wasn’t very good tonight," VanVleet said Tuesday after a 4-for-17, 11-point night against the Nets. "I sucked tonight. My body sucked tonight. That’s probably one of the reasons why we lost."
Since returning from COVID, VanVleet's scoring has fallen from 20.1 to 17.1 points per game and his shooting percentage has fallen from 40% pre-COVID to 36.4% in the 15 games since. Breaking down his stats even further, his scoring has fallen to just 13.8 points per game on 35.2% shooting since his hip injury.
That being said, VanVleet is right when he says his injuries and COVID issues are only a story when he's struggling. He's had some good games lately including a 27-point performance on Saturday against the New York Knicks, but those games have come more infrequently than they did before his injury.
Whatever it is plaguing him lately will hopefully go away with an offseason to recover and improve his game. He's planning on sitting down with Nick Nurse and the Raptors to figure out ways to tweak his game this summer. While that could mean trying to adapt his game to limit injuries, VanVleet said he's more focused on just trying to improve the skills he already has and won't be taking the foot off the gas pedal anytime soon.