Toronto Raptors: Case for & against moving Pascal Siakam to the bench

Toronto Raptors - Pascal Siakam and Delon Wright (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Pascal Siakam and Delon Wright (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images) /

With a struggling bench unit, the Toronto Raptors are left helpless as they wonder what needs to shake loose. Could a potential move to the bench be the change the Raptors are seeking?

If there has been one nagging issue for the Toronto Raptors this year its the surprise reversal of their ‘bench mob’. Things were bound to change after the Kawhi Leonard / DeMar DeRozan trade, one which saw a bench staple in Jakob Poeltl get shipped off. The bench mob took an even bigger blow at the start of the season when head coach Nick Nurse opted to move rising star Pascal Siakam to the starting line up.

Things have gone wonderfully for Siakam, so much so that he’d been considered for an all-star spot. Siakam’s promotion was a needed one, he’s helped stabilize the starters with his ability to switch throughout an entire line up. Siakam has turned into every NBA team’s dreams: a lanky big who can switch throughout a lineup and can help spread the floor. But like always, with all this good comes a little bad.

The loss of both Siakam and Yak on the bench has really shown, players like Delon Wright and C.J. Miles who were thriving last year have less space to operate with and have greatly regressed. But, in recent weeks we’ve seen Nick Nurse utilizing Siakam to help manage the bench, game by game Siakam proves that there might potentially be something there.

Should the Raptors consider moving Pascal Siakam back to the bench?

The case for: It’s been obvious that the most pressing issue so far this year has been the struggling bench unit, pick any of the players and they’ve most certainly had a slump at some point this season. Whether it was Fred VanVleet, C.J. Miles or OG Anunoby who’ve all struggled with their shots, Wright’s up and down play or even Greg Monroe’s horrid defensive there’s been clear issues with the unit. Moving Siakam to the bench would give the unit a clear number one scorer that it’s been so desperately missing, in turn steadying the bench.

The case against: Siakam has scratched and clawed his way to where he is, last year he put the team on notice of his potential, this year he showed it. So much so that he earned a role in the starting lineup and hasn’t looked back since. So it’s understandable that Siakam might get upset if asked to be moved back to the bench. It’s not to say that Nurse couldn’t talk him into the idea but it might cause contempt and possibly throw Siakam off his game, changes like this must be executed with a cautious and a gentle touch.

For: The loss of Jonas Valanciunas forced back-up center Greg Monroe into more minutes than anticipated. The results have been a complete disaster,  as Monroe has repeatedly been played off the court because of defensive issues. A potential fix to the issue could be slotting Siakam into the ‘five’ role. It’s true that size could play a factor in the results but with the way the league is trending Siakam might be able to find gold at the five. Plus it would only be temporary till JV gets back healthy.

Against: Siakam is a great third option on offense and has found great success in playing off of both Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry. As stated, he’s helped stabilize the starters with his switch-ability and his complimentary offensive game. Siakam has also had a breakthrough statistically this year, setting career-highs in points (15.4), rebounds (6.9), assists (2.9) and has improved his three-point shooting by 11-percent compared to last year (currently at 33-percent).

For: The Siakam move would instantly improve the depth of the roster, giving true scoring options on all lineups. The move would also present more of an opportunity for players such as OG and Miles who would get more of a run with the starters. This, in turn, would hopefully help re-establish their play which has been desperately missed this season. Rediscovering the play of the bench roster is going to be the key when it comes to playoffs. A Siakam move to the bench right now could be the thing that unlocks it all.

Against: One of the lone bright spots on the bench this season has been Norman Powell. After a very down 2017, Powell has started to find his stride and could be the new focal piece on the bench unit. Just two years ago Powell showed the abilities to be a productive player in the league, unfortunately, he suffered a subluxation of the left shoulder forcing him to miss a large chunk of time. Giving Powell the bench reigns could allow him to further develop his offensive game, removing the need for Siakam to move back to the bench.

Next. Potential Anthony Davis trade. dark

After losing to the Bucks it’s clear that the Raptors need a partial shake up and moving Siakam to the bench could be just that. But, the Raptors must be weary in order not to upset both Siakam and the balance of the roster. Hopefully when everyone gets healthy things will start running smoothly again but until then maybe it’s time to consider a change in the roster.