VanVleet, Raptors win franchise’s first ever NBA Finals Title


Sophomore Fred VanVleet was named 2014 Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year Tuesday. “The way the season worked out I just had to take more of a role and be more of a force on both ends of the floor for us,” he said.

Former Wichita State guard Fred VanVleet and the Toronto Raptors defeated the Golden State Warriors on Thursday, 114-110, to win the franchise’s first ever NBA Championship.

VanVleet scored 22 points in the game, hitting big shot after big shot to bring the team back after trailing in the fourth quarter. He was 6-14 from the floor, including 5-11 from three-point range. The former NCAA All-American also recorded two rebounds. With 8:56 left in the fourth quarter, VanVleet tied the game with a three at 91-91. Less than a minute later, he knocked down another three-ball, taking the lead 94-93. Fred’s final made three gave the Raptors a 104-101 lead with 3:44 left in the game, a lead the team wouldn’t give away for the remainder of the game.

Warriors star Stephen Curry had the chance to take the lead with less than 20 seconds remaining in the game, but missed the three-pointer. He is now 0-10 in his career for the playoffs on shots with under 20 seconds left in the game. Curry struggled all night against VanVleet, scoring a quiet 21 points on 6-17 shooting. He was just 3-11 from three-point range. His final made shot came at the 6:00 mark of the final period.

VanVleet finished the series averaging 14 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.2 steals, and just 1 turnover a game. He also played an average of 32.3 minutes per game during the series. VanVleet broke the NBA Finals record for most made threes by a bench player. The previous record was 15 made threes, shared by Robert Horry and JR Smith. VanVleet knocked down 16. The former WSU standout becomes the first player in program history to score at least 20 points in a NBA Finals game. Nate Bowman scored 18 points in the 1970 Finals for the Knicks, but was unable to reach 20 points.

After the game, VanVleet called the series “stressful, but worth it.”

“Those guys (Golden State) don’t make it easy,” VanVleet said. “It was a lot of effort, they don’t give you anything. I had to do what I had to do for the team, and we did it.”

When talking about his clutch shooing, VanVleet responded with, “That’s what I do – Kawhi can’t take all of the shots.”

All-NBA forward Kwahi Leonard won the NBA Finals MVP award. His second career Finals MVP. As a team, Toronto becomes the first team in NBA history to win the Finals with six players averaging 10 points per game in the series.

VanVleet becomes the fourth Shocker to win an NBA Championship. Cliff Levingston won two in 1991 and 1992, while Bowman and Dave Stallworth were on the 1970 New York Knicks championship team. Fred gives Gregg Marshall his first player coached to win a championship, making him surpass John Calipari from Kentucky, who has never had a player win an NBA Title.