If you didn’t watch the Toronto Raptors closely, you’d think that Pascal Siakam is the worst power forward who ever played given how his poor play in the bubble was discussed. Likewise, Julius Randle was almost hailed as the second coming for finally getting the New York Knicks back into the postseason.
While Siakam is sitting out the postseason, in part because he and the Raptors struggled against Randle, the Knicks got the doors blown off of them by the Atlanta Hawks despite home-court advantage, and the play of Randle is a huge reason why.
Siakam’s bubble stats of 17.0 points and 7.5 rebounds per game while making just 39.6% of his shots are as ugly as they sound, but Randle’s series against Atlanta was even more putrid given the totality of the circumstances.
Randle did average a double-double for the series, but he did so while making a pitiful 29.8% of his shots, hitting on just 33% of his 3-point attempts, and turning the ball over an astounding 4.6 times per game, much worse than Siakam’s 2.0 per game in Orlando.
Raptors: Julius Randle was worse vs. Atlanta than Pascal Siakam was at Disney.
The bubble was a uniquely challenging environment to play in, and it produced some fluky results. Tyler Herro turned into prime Steph Curry, but he looks completely different outside of that environment. Siakam clearly didn’t mesh with that setup, and it weighed heavily on his play against Brooklyn and Boston.
Randle, who was playing with fans in the stands as the leading man in New York, can’t use that excuse. The Hawks have tons of healthy bodies to throw at him on the defensive end, and Nate McMillan is a heck of a defensive coach, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that Randle turned into Mike Sweetney in this series.
What has made the Siakam slander even more pronounced is the fact that over the last three seasons, Siakam has an NBA championship, an All-Star game appearance, and a Most Improved Player in his trophy cabinet. Randle checks two of those boxes, and since that combination didn’t prevent Siakam from getting torn apart, Randle should get the same treatment.
This is not necessarily a defense of Siakam’s bubble performance. It is, however, a call for Randle to get the Siakam treatment from the media after playing like a deer in the headlights if we’re going to be totally consistent about how he played against Atlanta.
Perhaps the gap between these two players isn’t as cavernous as it appears.