Some things are just meant for each other, like peanut butter and jam, s’ mores at campfires, and more importantly for the Toronto Raptors: Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet. The duo has taken the Toronto Raptors season by storm and has emerged as a top duo in the league, whether it’s on the court or in the kitchen (referring to commercial), it doesn’t matter.
When both Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet are healthy in the lineup, the Toronto Raptors owe a 30-9 record, this translates to a very impressive 76.92 percent. A lineup of Siakam without VanVleet is still very good, a 10-4 (71.43%) record. However, a lineup of VanVleet without Siakam is not as good. The Raptors are 5-4 (55.56%) record when they have VanVleet but no Siakam. This just comes to show how integral Pascal Siakam is to the lineup — Raptors are 6-5 when Siakam is out.
When you watch the Toronto Raptors, there are many parts of their game that are fascinating. But the innate connection between Siakam and VanVleet is what fascinates me the most. They know where to find each other at all times. Let’s look back at a cold and boring night on November 18, where Nick Nurse decides to run a two-man game between VanVleet and Siakam in consecutive possessions.
The beginning of each play was almost identical, just the result was different. The first sequence has VanVleet with the ball, and Siakam setting him a pick. Terry Rozier (defending VanVleet) doesn’t opt for the switch and instead goes around the screen, that forces P.J Washington (who was defending Siakam) to switch onto VanVleet or else that leaves an open lane to the basket. So while P.J Washington switched onto VanVleet and Terry Rozier is chasing from behind, that leaves Siakam wide open for three since Washington was expecting a drive from Siakam.
There is a lot going on here and the Raptors execution of the play was perfect and they did their homework knowing that Terry Rozier will avoid any switch to a much bigger player.
The second play starts off the same but they were anticipating the pick and pop by Siakam. Siakam picks for VanVleet, Rozier goes around the pick again, and this forces P.J Washington to switch on VanVleet again. But this time around Miles Bridges — who was defending Anunoby — actually hovers around the three-point line so he can close out to Siakam and Anunoby if they take the three. Siakam reads the play and decides to cut in because he has the open lane. This results in another easy bucket for the Raptors.
There was a third consecutive play run by the same two. This time though, it was Siakam with the ball and he set a dribble handoff for VanVleet. As expected, Rozier runs around screen forcing Washington, once again, to go on VanVleet but leaving Siakam wide open for three. Out of frustration, Washington fouls VanVleet who was on his way to the basket. Another easy two points.
In total, Siakam and VanVleet were able to squeeze out 9 points in a row between each other, almost seamlessly. Give credit to coach Nurse to for coming in with a ready gameplan, but the level and perfect execution that VanVleet and Siakam pull off the play is near perfect.
Of course, it is the Charlotte Hornets, and not every team has a six-foot guard who can’t defend on their team. Nonetheless, the duo of VanVleet and Siakam has picked apart defenses numerous times during the season, and it something that is fun to watch, and something we hope continues when the playoffs come around.
Apart from pick and pops and pick and rolls, there are a series of plays that are done between the two. VanVleet passing it to Siakam in the low post, which results in a successful post up or VanVleet being open. VanVleet making some ridiculous no-look pass to Siakam because why not.
There is a reason that Siakam has been assisted by VanVleet (60 times) more than anyone else on the team. It also goes the other way around, VanVleet has been assisted by Siakam (31 times) more than anyone else.
They are the perfect duo and the Toronto Raptors must do what it takes to keep VanVleet from leaving this offseason as he becomes a free agent, because their chemistry makes them a duo that can reckon the league for years to come if held together. They are the perfect PB and J.
Here is the commercial of their off-court chemistry if you have yet to see it.