If OG Anunoby’s jump up Sports Illustrated’s Top 100 players for 2022 was the best developmental news from last season, Pascal Siakam’s tumble is certainly the most concerning.
Even after a disappointing 2020 playoff performance, Siakam was still viewed as one of the best young players in the league. SI had him ranked 30th in the NBA on its 2021 rankings. Then the 2020-21 season took place and Siakam struggled, falling all the way down to No. 44 in the latest rankings.
“His recent struggles aside, Siakam is a tantalizing wing player who should just be entering the prime of his career,” SI’s Rohan Nadkarni wrote. “He’s now averaged over 20 points in back-to-back seasons, and his size makes him the perfect piece for a modern NBA defense. Given a relatively normal season to play in, Siakam should thrive as he was before COVID-19 threw the league into chaos.”
That 14 spot slip has Siakam ranked just behind Mike Conley at No. 43, DeMar DeRozan at No. 42, Julius Randle at No. 41, and Kyle Lowry at No. 40. It does, however, still put him two spots ahead of Fred VanVleet who slotted in at No. 46, an 11 spot jump from last year.
“With Kyle Lowry in Miami, VanVleet will now be the primary ballhandler in Toronto. It’s a role he can handle. But it’ll be tougher with Pascal Siakam potentially missing the start of the season,” Chris Herring wrote. “One question facing the 6′ 1″ guard: Can he finish better at the cup? He drove almost 15 times per game last year, but shot just 38%—the worst in the NBA among those who drove 10 times per game—when he did.”
This year will be a prove-it season for Toronto’s top two players. With Lowry in Miami, they’ll have to shoulder an even larger portion of the offensive load while proving leadership to a very young and inexperienced squad. If all goes well, there’s no reason Siakam and VanVleet can’t jump up a tier into the top 30 or 40 players in the league next season.