One of the big questions entering the NBA’s restart for the Toronto Raptors was Pascal Siakam in the number one scorer’s role.
For a team that ranked 12th in the league in offensive efficiency, Siakam continuing his growth on offense is crucial for the Raptors’ success.
Through the first two games of the restart, the progression is apparent.
On Monday afternoon against the Miami Heat, Siakam put up 22 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the field and 4-of-7 shooting from three. Through two games, Siakam averaged 17.5 PPG, 7.5 RPG, and 3 APG on 39.7 percent shooting.
Not bad for someone who hasn’t played meaningful basketball in over four months.
“The best part about it from my standpoint is there’s still a lot of ceiling there, I think,” said Raptors head coach Nick Nurse on Siakam’s growth. “So that’s encouraging. I think his shooting will improve, I think his decision-making will improve, I think he’s just getting the ball in the basket period.”
The sample size is small (two games) but it is promising to see Siakam attempt to create offense against bigger defenders.
Here against Bam Adebayo, the 6’9 center for the Heat, Siakam starts at the top of the key, waits for the Anunoby switch off before going inside the arc, hesitates then pulls up for the jumper. Even against Adebayo’s size, it demonstrates Siakam’s confidence to attempt and convert that mid-range shot.
Compared to last year, Siakam’s shooting percentage numbers (55.8 TS%) are down because he is embracing a higher usage rate (28.0 USG%). Despite the dip in efficiency, it’s clear the Raptors forward is willing to take more shots beyond the rim.
“Understanding that you’re going to get attention, and know how to be aggressive, and know how to defer,” Siakam said in a conference call to reporters. “It’s something that I’m learning and continuing to get better at. It’s an exciting time, just working every day, trying to improve and seeing things that defences are going to throw at me and adjust based on that.”
Another aspect of Siakam’s offense is in crunch time. He leads the Raptors starters this season in field goal percentage in the last five minutes during the regular season.
|Player||FG% (Last 5 Minutes)|
(Data per NBA.com)
Against the Heat, Siakam made a critical three-pointer, tying the game at 92 apiece. In the Lakers game, the Raptors forward utilized his size in the paint, attacking the rim and drawing an “and-one” on Lakers guard Kentavius Caldwell-Pope.
Print this out and frame it. pic.twitter.com/y2qzVmw4Vt
— Raptors Republic (@raptorsrepublic) August 2, 2020
Siakam also shows his intelligence in the post, as seen in this clip against the Heat in the third quarter. Anunoby sets a screen, allowing Siakam to go inside. He draws the Heat defenders towards him and instead of taking a contested shot, he kicks it out to Fred VanVleet for the corner three-pointer.
Point Pascal. pic.twitter.com/xnPRruR314
— Raptors Republic (@raptorsrepublic) August 3, 2020
The Raptors guard play of Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet garners expected attention after their stellar first two games. But Siakam should not be overlooked, as he embraces his star role on a Raptors team looking to defend the title.