Toronto Raptors: Three unexpected surprises through 13 games

Toronto Raptors - Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors – Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

VanVleet (no not Siakam) is Toronto Raptors’ leading scorer

This is not a knock on Fred VanVleet who has been awesome for the better part of the season. But no one would’ve expected Pascal Siakam to regress as much as he did. Last season, Siakam averaged 23 points (on 51.2 EFG%), was an All-Star, got an All-NBA nod, and was the engine that made the Raptors such a powerhouse in the regular season. The Raptors were 7.7 points better when Siakam was on the court which ranks him in the 87th percentile, per Cleaning The Glass.

Through 13 games this season, Siakam is averaging 19 points (on 48.6 EFG%)  and the team is 11 points worst when he is on the court, which ranks him in the 20th percentile. There’s a huge discrepancy between this season and last. It does feel weird because there are games where Siakam looks like a more complete player than he ever was last year.

The two following games are perfect examples of this:

  • Against the Kings: 17 points/9 rebounds/12 assists /63.6 % FG
  • Against the Trailblazers: 22 points/13 rebounds/10 assists/52.9 % FG

His best games this season have been when he has been dishing out dimes. But he has failed to make that a consistent trend; he’s had four games where he’s gotten 6 plus assists, while in the rest of the games, he’s gotten four or fewer assists.

If Siakam being used as a playmaker the reason VanVleet is the team’s leading scorer, then that’s fine as long as Siakam fully buys into taking on that role. Fully buying into the role and averaging 6-7 assists per game should be the goal for Siakam. The shooting comes and goes, but the passing isn’t something that should come and go.

As for VanVleet, he’s been doing good and has increased the areas from where he can score (mid-range and floater area). However, he has regressed to his old ways shooting poorly around the rim; despite looking like he improved in that department earlier on.

The rate that he has been going to the free-throw line is also concerning, considering how much time the ball is in his hands. He is going to the free-throw line only two times a game. VanVleet has to get to the line at least 4-5 times a game. Too often he drives right under the rim but dribbles it out.

I’m not too sure he’ll be the team’s leading scorer through 72 games, but if he is, let’s hope that VanVleet addresses his problems and Siakam averages more assists than he currently is.