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Toronto Raptors

Toronto Raptors will 'have a good chance' of defending title if NBA season returns, says Fred VanVleet

If the NBA season returns, it sounds as though Fred VanVleet will be ready to go.

On Wednesday, the Toronto Raptors guard appeared on ESPN's "The Jump" to talk about the possibility of the NBA season returning. While VanVleet said that the NBA faces a lot of challenges in resuming and that he has concerns beyond the coronavirus pandemic, he's optimistic that there will be a scenario that will allow them to finish what has been started.

"I think a lot of guys want to get back out there," VanVleet told Rachel Nichols. "I do think that there is some serious concern, just regarding health and logistics and how everything will look, and guys being away from their families. I think those are all real things. But at the end of the day, this is what we do and this is who we are."

The Raptors, in particular, seem eager to return given their situation, with Nichols citing the impending free agency of VanVleet, Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol, as well as other factors such as Kyle Lowry's age.

"I think that's part of the reason that everyone wants to get back, at least from our camp," VanVleet said. "We knew we had a good chance, as good a chance as anybody from obviously what we did last year and then to come back after losing Kawhi [Leonard] and Danny [Green] to have the team that we had this year.

"We were basically trying to get through the regular season to kind of see where we were at for the playoffs. I think we were really excited to go into the postseason and now I think we're starting to get back excited to kind of say, 'Hey, we still have the same group, our chances are good, everybody is well-rested.'

"So whatever basketball looks like when we get back, I think we'll have a good chance."

Coming off of winning the first championship in franchise history, the Raptors had a 46-18 record when the season was suspended, good for second in the Eastern Conference behind the Milwaukee Bucks. The Raptors did so despite missing the fifth-most games in the league to injury, with rookie Terence Davis being the only player who has appeared in every game this season.

It remains to be seen what that record will earn the Raptors in the playoffs should the season return. The NBA has reportedly talked about changing up the playoffs, two of the known options being reseeding teams 1-16 as opposed to 1-8 in either conference and a soccer World Cup-style, group stage format.

Prior to the NBA season being suspended, FiveThirtyEight gave the Raptors a 9% chance of making the Finals and a 2% chance of winning it all.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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