The following is part of Raptors Republic’s series of pieces reviewing the season for the Toronto Raptors. You can find all the pieces in the series here.
Toronto’s most accomplished player and go-to guy, Pascal Siakam. Although it wasn’t the greatest season for the Raptors as a team, it was yet another successful year individually for Spicy P as he set multiple highs and was given his second berth as an All-Star.
Let’s start with the positives. Siakam was a workhorse for the Raptors, tied with Kyrie Irving for leading the league in minutes per game at 37.4 over 71 regular season games which is no surprise as Nick Nurse relied heavily on the starters yet again. Siakam was given a Player of the Week honour just one day after Christmas for week 10 of the NBA regular season while also finishing in the top 20 for points per game and a top 25 finish in the assists per game category.
He also posted career highs in field goals(8.9,) field goal attempts(18.5,) free throws (5.2,) free throw attempts (6.7,) assists (5.8) and points per game (24.2.) In fact, it was his second straight season with 5+ assists per game so his playmaking over the last couple of years has improved immensely.
Let’s take a look at his shot chart for the season. Unsurprisingly Siakam took most of his shots in the paint and he made his living there shooting above league average. It also explains why he had a career-high in free throws made and attempted this season as he relentlessly attacked the paint.
Something that was really interesting is that Siakam shot way better on the right side than on the left side except for one area. He made 43% of his corner threes on the right side on a small sample size and the left side was an even smaller sample size but he really struggled there shooting only 23%.
The only area he struggled at on the right side was in the long midrange shots. He was 9% below the league average and surprisingly shot better on the left side in the same area but it was also well below the league average.
Career-high 52 points against the New York Knicks
Back in December, the Raptors were on a six-game losing streak. They snapped that streak on the road at Madison Square Garden thanks to Siakam’s massive night. He had a career-high 52 points, which tied DeMar DeRozan’s record for second-most points in a regular-season game as a Raptor as well as 9 rebounds and 7 assists – narrowly missing a triple-double.
Triple double against the Brooklyn Nets.
After an impressive win in their season opener against the Cavaliers, the Raptors took on the Nets in the Barclays Center. Let’s not forget that Siakam also made a comment about how he wanted to be a top-five player in the league during the offseason and he definitely looked like one during the early part of the season. This was a much different-looking Brooklyn team at the time as they were led by Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving who combined for 57 points in this game. On the other side, Toronto was getting carried by Siakam as he had a game-high 37 points on 71% shooting along with 12 rebounds and 11 assists. The second highest-scoring Raptor was Fred VanVleet with 18 points. Ultimately Toronto lost the game 109-105, but it was a fantastic performance by Spicy P.
Missed potential game-tying free throws vs Bulls in the play-in.
Everyone will remember this game for one reason – DeMar’s daughter, Diar. I know we all want to forget this performance and it is kind of harsh to put it here since the whole team was missing free throws all night (the team shot 18/36 as a whole from the line.) Yeah, Siakam put up 32 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists but he missed the most crucial free throws of the game. Diar definitely played a big part in this game as you could hear a loud scream every time the Raptors shot a free throw.
It was a brutal finish for the Raptors and Siakam, but statistically speaking you could say that he had the best season of his career. Who knows if he’ll be around at the start of next season as there are a lot of rumours flying around right now and it wouldn’t be a shock to see a completely different Raptors team in a few months. If the Raptors do want to be competitive though, they need to keep Siakam around.