With two games left to play, Pascal Siakam and the Toronto Raptors will face the Dallas Mavericks in an inconsequential contest Friday night. A long productive stretch of seven seasons of playoff basketball is now history, and the franchise will now focus on seeing what their youth is capable of in these last three games, the draft and the offseason.
There is certainly plenty of concern about what went wrong this season with the Raptors, including decisions not to sign a true starting center in the summer, not addressing the team’s lack of depth at the center position until after the trade deadline, playing in Tampa, and the play of certain players like Pascal Siakam.
His struggles began last season during the Florida Bubble and spilled over into this season at times as well. For his part, Siakam felt “weird” looking back on the closeout to last season.
Siakam, currently out of the lineup with a shoulder injury, is averaging 21.4 points, 4,5 assists, and 7.2 rebounds in 56 games this season. Still, has been a target of many critics despite the fact he is about to complete his second season of averaging over 20 points per game and is taking on the role as the team’s top-scoring option.
It’s likely the additional attention is because his contract extension of nearly $130 million over four years kicked in this season. Those same critics don’t make allowances because in the last two seasons, Kawhi Leonard left, as did starters Danny Green, Marc Gasol, and Serge Ibaka.
For better or worse, Siakam is the team’s top star, and the Raptors should stay the course with him at the helm, and here’s why.