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The NBA is finally taking notice: Fred VanVleet is a star.

After years hiding in Kyle Lowry's shadow, VanVleet has shown he's far more than just a high-end role player. He's not just a pesky defender or a catch-and-shoot specialist who helped Toronto reach the pinnacle of the sport in 2019. At 27 years old, VanVleet has stepped into the spotlight and is on the verge of his NBA stardom and his first All-Star Game.

"He’s just so underappreciated, to me, by the league. I think he’s maybe the most underrated player in the game," said Portland Trail Blazers coach Chauncey Billups, a Basketball Hall of Fame point guard in his own right. "He can do it all. Gotta give him credit for being as good as he is. A lockdown defender. He’s a big shot taker and maker."

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It's why the Trail Blazers will certainly direct their defensive attention to the 6-foot-nothing guard. His 21.8 points per game lead all Raptors and he's doing it while shooting 39.8% from behind the arc on nearly 10 attempts per game. 

"He’s able to manipulate defenses with his skill set and his IQ and most players who can do those types of things, those are the superstars around here," Billups added. "So give him the credit he deserves. He’s tough as nails. I’ve been proud of watching him develop and continue to get better and better and just lead."

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