Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet was out 12 games with a thumb injury — but upon his return all thumbs watching VanVleet automatically became thumbs up. VanVleet re-entered the Raptors lineup without missing a beat, recording his first career double-double against the Knicks in his return week (13 points and 12 assists). With the Raptors Kyle Lowry having ankle trouble, VanVleet’s strong return is a needed piece of the Toronto puzzle as they try to ride Kawhi Leonard and a revitalized roster deep into the playoffs.
Fans could tell VanVleet had a thumb injury and not, say, an ankle problem — because the fleet VanVleet came back moving perfectly. No one seems happier than Kawhi Leonard. The people at TheRenderNBA did a great lip-sych read on Kawhi in the quick video below: “Talk to me. Freddy talk to me. I’m with you my boy,” Leonard seems to say as they exit the court. This Raptors team is playing with cohesion and purpose. The Eastern Conference is on notice.