Wednesday, Feb 28, 2024

To meet their goals, the Raptors need Siakam to play like one of the NBA’s best

The downside with making bold pronouncements, the kind that trend on social media and become discussion points for days, is that they linger out there and can boomerang back every once in a while.

For example: we’re about six months removed from Toronto Raptors star Pascal Siakam saying on the opening day of training camp that he wanted to be a top-five player in the NBA.

“It’s all about getting better this season,” the seven-year veteran said back in late September. “I just felt like, yeah, it’s time to take another step. I always do that. And I try every [year] to take a step up. I think for me, after the year that I had [in 2021-22], just accomplishing that level of play — I’ve been All-NBA, I’ve been an All-Star, I wanna be a top-five player in the league. I wanna be one of the best, and I’ll do everything I can to make that happen.”

Well, after 68 games, it hasn’t exactly worked how anyone might have hoped. Siakam set the bar high for himself but hasn’t managed to speak or play his goals into existence.

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Siakam rode a strong start to being named an injury replacement for the Eastern Conference in the NBA All-Star Game – his second all-star appearance to go along with two all-NBA awards since 2019-20. But the grinding, night-in, night-out, season-long excellence – not to mention team success – that earns players first-team all-NBA consideration and gets them mentioned in MVP conversations hasn’t been there.

More concerning is that the Raptors are in a game-by-game fight to preserve a spot in the Eastern Conference play-in tournament, and Siakam has gone missing lately.

Over his past five games – coinciding with Toronto’s 1-4 road trip – Siakam was a non-factor, playing some of his least effective basketball of the season as he averaged 15.8 points on 42.3 per cent shooting.

In addition to his drop in production, his passivity has been notable. His usage rate – which had been 28.5 per before the road trip – was just 22.5 per cent during the five-game jaunt, and a season-low 16.4 per cent in Toronto’s loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday. It’s the only time Siakam’s been below 20 per cent this season. His other two lowest usage games for the year were at the beginning of the trip in two games against the Wizards.

A pre-season focus was on getting to the free throw line, and after some early success that’s been trending downwards, he took nine free throws over the five-game trip.

“I don’t know. I couldn’t tell you,” he said. “I’m not getting to the free-throw line at all. I don’t know if it’s me or something else. Yeah, definitely a shift.” 

The Raptors have more than one problem. Perimeter shooting continues to be an issue, so does their half-court defence, and their bench production – spotty all season – has been non-existent recently. But given the Raptors’ struggles, it’s not an ideal time for the team’s leading scorer to retreat.

When asked about the turn his season has taken lately the Raptors leading scorer for the past four seasons sounded uncertain about why or what’s happened or how to fix it.

“I think I just gotta figure out the flow of the offence and how we play, things like that,” said Siakam after the Raptors practised at OVO Centre in advance of hosting the Denver Nuggets to kick off a crucial stretch of seven games in their next eight at Scotiabank Arena. “Some things are different, but I think I just have to continue to find my spots, continue to find a way into the offence and find my spots without doing too much or overplaying.”

It’s a surprising thing to say given the stage of the season and Siakam’s status on the team.

An all-star musing about role definition in March? Hmmm.

Or maybe Siakam didn’t want to get into specifics with regard to how he’s being used or the changes that have taken place. One trend that emerged over the trip is that during the fourth quarter of games, not only did the offence run increasingly through Scottie Barnes, but it seemed to come at the expense of Siakam.

Barnes’ usage rate in the fourth quarter on the trip – which featured five relatively close games – was 28.1 per cent, the highest on the team and the highest of any month of the season for the second-year forward. Meanwhile, Siakam’s was just 16.8 per cent, sixth on the team and the lowest by him in a single month since November 2018, when Siakam was still an emerging role player.

It’s not reading too far between the lines to see that something seems off, at least from Siakam’s standpoint.

“The main thing is having fun with the game, this is my joy and the thing that gives me the most peace: being on the floor, being on the basketball court. Coming in the gym every single morning, getting in my routine, seeing the people I work out with every single day, that’s just my peace, it’s what makes me happy,” he said.

“Finding a way to keep that peace no matter what and have that joy no matter what and it’s challenging. That’s my biggest challenge, understanding that this is my place, this is where I feel the most at peace and happy and I have to keep that. Sometimes that can fade a little bit which is normal, we’re humans, but I just gotta be able to have that and make sure nobody takes that away from me.”

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You can’t take Siakam’s overall season away from him. He may have swung for ‘top-five’ and missed, but he’s been very good. Barring something strange over the remaining 14 games of the regular season, Siakam will post a career-high scoring average (24.4 now vs 22.9 in 2019-20), a career-best for assists (5.9 now vs. 5.3 last season) and a career-mark for free throw attempts (6.9 vs. 5.6 last season).

His efficiency is where he falls a little short. His effective field goal percentage (which accounts for the relative value of two-point and three-point field goals) is 51.1 which is down from last season (52.5) and below the league average (54.4) while his True Shooting percentage (which includes free throws) is also down. Where last season he was at 56.5 he’s a 56.2 this year, which is a fractional difference, but also comes as the league-average mark (58.1) is at an all-time high.

It profiles a very good player having a very good offensive season – the only other players averaging at least 24.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 5.9 assists are the league’s best: Nikola Jokic, Luka Doncic, and LeBron James. The difference is that the other three are averaging – on aggregate – 29/10/8 with a TS% of .631.

Siakam’s on the same island, but in a different time zone.

The various ‘catch-all’ numbers – statistical models that try to correlate box score data while accounting for lineups, quality of competition, defensive impact, and other variables – tell a similar story. According to a recent post by Andy Bailey, who took an average of player rankings across 10 different models, the top five are Jokic, Doncic, Joel Embiid, Damian Lillard and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Siakam ranks 36th as of Friday.

But with 14 games left the Raptors need Siakam at his best, such as he was this time last season when his surge drove Toronto’s late run up to 48 wins and the fifth seed in the East, developments no one saw coming and which were crucial in Siakam earning third-team all-NBA honour after a slow start hurt a chance at being named an all-star at mid-season. Siakam was outstanding during Toronto’s final push as he averaged 26.6 points, 8.9 rebounds and 6.1 assists while shooting 52.1 per cent from the floor over his last 17 games, during which Toronto went 14-3.

For the moment Siakam’s slippage and his struggle to maintain the joy that’s so important to him are mysteries, or at least subjects he prefers not delving into too deeply.

“I think a lot of things could do that,” he said when I asked him why the fun part of the job has faded lately. “A lot of things from energy around or a lot of things from losing, it’s a lot of things that can make that fade away a little bit just because I care so much about the game and I care so much about wanting to get better and wanting to win but, also, I have to keep that balance which is easier said than done.

“It’s the hardest thing but I think I’ll be okay.”

That’s the thing though. For the Raptors to meet their goals in the near term and beyond, they need Siakam to be what he set out to be this season: one of the best players in the game.

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By: Michael Grange
Title: To meet their goals, the Raptors need Siakam to play like one of the NBA’s best
Sourced From:
Published Date: 03-14-2023

Frequently Asked Questions

Why did NBA leave Vancouver?

NBA pulled out of Vancouver due to a dispute over arena financing. The City was expected to contribute $40m towards the construction of a brand new basketball arena. It would include 12 luxury suites along with two restaurants, bars, and a hotel. However, the City Council wanted $60 million in taxpayer money for the team owners to pay off their existing debt. This meant the city would have to borrow $200 million to build the arena, while the team owners only had to pay back $20 million in debt. This would result in the city being responsible for paying the rest of its loan.

If the NBA would agree to keep Rogers Arena open until the opening of the new facility, the City Council was willing to approve the plan. However, the league refused to compromise and said that the arena was too small for them. Because it was too small, they didn't want anymore to play there. They felt that asking them to play in a smaller venue was unfair, especially since they weren't making any additional revenue.

The City Council asked for financial assistance and offered to help the province. Although the province was willing to donate $150 million, the City Council still needed additional $100 million. That was when the City decided that it would instead concentrate on building an arena downtown.

Vancouver had an NBA team.

Vancouver does not have a NBA team. The Vancouver Grizzlies existed in the city from 1995 to 2001. However, the team moved to Memphis Tennessee in 2001. Vancouver is home to the Toronto Raptors, the local NBA team. The Greater Vancouver Area also hosts professional basketball teams, such as Vancouver Volcanoes and the Canadian Elite Basketball League's BC Tigers. Many amateur and semiprofessional teams play in different local leagues.

Vancouver has many recreational opportunities for basketball fans. For example, the Vancouver Grizzlies Alumni Association is a group that strives to connect former players from the team with each other and also bring awareness of basketball in British Columbia. The association hosts events such as viewing parties for Raptors games and clinics to help young players develop their game.

The city's love for basketball has not diminished since the departure of the Grizzlies, and it remains a community that supports the sport in myriad ways. Vancouverites continue to share their passion for basketball through attending games, watching Raptors games, and supporting the many initiatives taken by former players as well as other organizations working to increase awareness about basketball in the area.

Why are Toronto Raptors called Raptors

The NBA's expansion to Canada saw the creation of the Toronto Raptors in 1995. Name and logo for the team were inspired from Jurassic Park. The team colors are bright red, silver, purple, black and silver.

The Raptors were struggling to establish themselves in the league during their first season. They ended up with a record 21-61. They improved every year, and in 1999 they were ready to make their first playoff appearance.

The Raptors' most memorable moment was in 2019, when they won the NBA championship title. Toronto was led by Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry in the backcourt, winning their first NBA championship.

Since then, the Raptors are a favourite sports team in Canada. Toronto continues to excite basketball fans from around the world, with international superstars and local talent.

Canada's proud heritage is represented by the Toronto Raptors. Their success on the courts inspires young basketball players all over the country. The Raptors are a beloved team in Canada thanks to their passion, unmatched style of play and dedication to excellence.

What is the name of the Toronto Raptors' mascot?

The Toronto Raptors were founded in 1995 as an NBA team. They play their games in Scotiabank Arena.

Raptor, a huge red dinosaur, is the Raptors' Mascot. Raptor first appeared in 1995. He also makes appearances throughout Toronto, participating in charity events and community initiatives. He was awarded the NBA Mascot of the year award in 2019 for his many years of dedication to the Raptors. Raptor, a beloved figure around Toronto and in the NBA, is one of the most prominent mascots within professional sports. He has also become an international symbol of Canada's basketball fandom.

Many people in the country and city share Raptor’s passion for his team, and its fans. Raptor has led the Raptors to become one of the most successful NBA teams, winning their first title in 2019. This win was a significant milestone for basketball fans across Canada and Toronto. Raptor remains a major source for pride for those who are Raptors fans. Raptors pride will never end. Long live the Raptor! Go, Toronto Raptors!

How many Toronto Raptors have had all-stars?

Vince Carter (Vince Carter), Antonio Davis, DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry are all Raptors All-Stars. Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, Fred VanVleet, DeMar DeRozan and Kawhi Leonard are also Raptors All Stars. All of the players who made this All-Star team have been selected by other NBA teams, including Leonard and VanVleet.

What was the fate of the Toronto Raptors following Kawhi Leonard's departure from Toronto?

It was a record year for the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors won 53 consecutive games during the 2020 season. All-Star point-guard Kyle Lowry, who averaged 19.7 and 7.5 points per game, was key to the team’s success. Lowry was joined by fellow All-Star forward Pascal Siakam, who averaged 22.9 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. Norman Powell and Fred VanVleet made significant contributions for the Raptors. The team's talent, depth, and versatility helped them overcome injuries to Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka.

The team was led and managed by Nick Nurse, Coach of the Year, and Pascal Siakam, All-NBA Second Teamer. . Siakam, who averaged almost 20+ points per match, made bold strategic decision that paid off. Kyle Lowry was chosen to the 2020 NBA All-Star roster, his sixth consecutive selection.

The playoffs started later than usual this season, in August at the "Bubble", Bay Lake, Florida near Orlando. The Raptors faced off against the Brooklyn Nets in the first round and won 4-0. The Raptors lost 0-2 to the Boston Celtics in round two, but OG Anunoby scored a buzzer-beater for Toronto's third game. The series eventually went to seven games, with Boston prevailing.

When was the Raptors first ever playoff win?

Toronto won their first-ever playoff series as they defeated New York 3-2 in 2001, advancing to the Eastern Conference semifinals for the first time in franchise history under head coach Lenny Wilkens.


  • Thomas named Raptors' GM NBA superstar to have 10% stake in the new franchise". (
  • After Thomas attempted to execute a letter of intent with Slaight to purchase the team failed, he resigned from his position in November and sold his 9 percent stake in the team to Slaight. (
  • By 2018, estimated the Raptors were worth $1.4 billion, 12th in the NBA. (
  • This improved during the 2006–07 regular season to an average of 18,258 fans (13th in the league), 92.2 percent capacity at the Air Canada Centre. (
  • Thomas named Raptors' GM NBA superstar to have 10% stake in the new franchise". (

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How To

Tips on where to eat before the Toronto Raptors game at Scotiabank Arena

The best way to eat before a game is to avoid overeating. You can find plenty of food inside the arena if your hunger pangs after you arrive.

A variety of concessions can be found along the concourse, as well as the stands. Some places offer beer only, while others offer hot dogs and pizza, as well as burgers.

The concession stand serving nachos is one of the most sought-after options. These delicious, cheesey snacks can be topped with jalapenos or cheese sauce and bacon bits.

You can also buy tickets for a pre-game party. These events can be held at many restaurants and offer food and beverages before you enter the arena.

It's a great place to try local cuisine. There are pulled pork sandwiches, chicken wings and ribs on the menu.

There are many fast-food chains nearby, including Subway, Tim Hortons, McDonald's, and McDonald's.

You can find healthy restaurants within walking distance for those who want to avoid greasy foods. Freshii is one of the most popular places. This chain offers fresh salads and wraps made from organic ingredients.

Other options include sushi bars and juice shops.

There are many coffee shops and frozen yogurt parlours located just across the street, if you want to grab something to eat instead of a cup of coffee.

No matter what you're craving, there are plenty of places to eat before and during the Toronto Raptors game. Give yourself plenty of time to clear security and locate your seat.

Have fun cheering on your home team. And thank you for reading! Go Raptors Enjoy the game!