Part of the fun of having a young team again is that fans are able to daydream about what each of our players might one day become. If they aren’t finished products, then in the starry eyes of the optimistic fan, the sky is still the limit. Because of this, the Toronto Raptors predictions for 2021 are taking a very rosy view of their current situation and future prospects.
The Raptors might be headed for a season without the playoffs, but that doesn’t change the fact that they have a young core worth watching. With a few more enhancements, a nucleus led by Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, and Gary Trent Jr. should be able to compete for a postseason spot.
When making player comparisons, it’s important to recognize all the nuances of both the current and past player’s games. It’s a fun exercise, but only if you’re projecting greatness.
Nobody wants to hear about how Malachi Flynn could one day be the next Jarrett Jack. No, they want to hear about he’s Lillard, Nash, Kidd, or Thomas. They want to hear how he reminds them of a young superstar. Considering how some of these studs profile, it’s time to examine their best-case scenario for each of these studs if they manage to hit their developmental strides.
These are the best Toronto Raptors future player comparisons
Fred VanVleet – Damon Stoudamire
Those who remember prime Stoudamire remember how he employed 2021 point guard skills in the 90s and 2000s. At only 5’10, Stoudamire was gaining few advantages from his physical gifts, but it was his shooting and speed that allowed him to thrive. He was taking pull-up threes when Steph Curry was in the third grade.
We see a lot of similarities in the game of VanVleet in how he’s able to stretch the D with his shooting, how he’s able to create in isolation without a gliding dribble style, how he’s able to finish against impossible size disadvantages.
The difference is VanVleet’s game isn’t reliant on his first step. The way they play is similar, but while Stoudamire’s speed and acceleration dwarf VanVleet’s, they were also the key to his entire offensive repertoire and it’s what eventually caused him to decline.
VanVleet doesn’t have the quicks Stoudamire did, but he’s been able to be successful attacking without them, and this projects for a much longer prime and career for Freddy.
Pascal Siakam – Bob Love
An NBA/ABA deep cut right here!
Love had his best years playing for the Chicago Bulls in the early 1970s. During his time with the Bulls, Love averaged 22.6 points and 7.1 rebounds a game, and despite an often losing record, making three All-Star teams in the process.
Pascal is reminiscent of Love for a number of reasons but the most obvious is their similar frames. Long and lean with arms that seem to extend to the far reaches as they lay the ball in, both Siakam and Love approach the game of basketball like a dancer more than a wrestler.
Toronto Raptors: Pascal Siakam is a truly unique player
The 70s were an era defined by the powerful big man of the NBA. Hard-nosed fighters who ripped down rebounds, swatted shots, swung elbows, and plodded up and down the court like tractors (think Dave Cowens, Artis Gilmore, and Willis Reed), but Love was much more graceful.
While the style of the modern NBA power forward has come a long way since then, Siakam’s stringy dance around the basketball court is still a departure from the norm. He’s not a pick ‘n pop forward, he’s not a high-flying dunker, he’s not even really that great of a long-distance shooter.
Siakam combines finesse with footwork and a body naturally suited for the game to become his own unique brand of power forward. He’s an All-Star, and he got there playing his own way.
Love and Siakam may look alike physically, but it’s their ability to be successful without conforming to league norms that make them a perfect pair.