The Toronto Raptors are not only transitioning out of the Kyle Lowry era, but they may be transitioning into the age of Pascal Siakam. Their leading scorer from last year is tied to Toronto thanks to a hefty max contract that will pay him nine figures in the next few years, as the Raptors will lean on him after rebuking trade requests.
In an in-depth interview with the New York Times, Siakam claims that he originally struggled with the Raptors’ front office’s goals for him, with Pascal himself going as far as to say “I never really felt like I was the guy” last year.
It could be easy to take those comments the wrong way, as assuming that Lowry would hand over control of this team might’ve been jumping the gun on Siakam’s part. However, the Raptors know that Siakam has more quality basketball ahead of him than Lowry, and Toronto wouldn’t give him that type of money if they didn’t feel like he could produce.
2021-22 is going to be a very challenging season for the Raptors, but it could be Siakam’s best season to date, as he will be given the keys to the car of this very young squad. You want to be the main man in Toronto? Well, game on. the Raptors will see what you’ve got this season.
Can Pascal Siakam step up for the Toronto Raptors?
Being “the guy” doesn’t just mean you’re the leading scorer on the team. There’s a leadership component to that, and without that ancillary part of your personality and style of play, Siakam may struggle to lead the Raptors back to the playoffs. At least he’ll be given plenty of chances to prove that he could be the bedrock of this team.
This lineup is very young, lacks a ton of great scorers, and will have to play in the best division in basketball against four other playoff teams. Lowry was never a high-volume scorer, but he was as efficient and clutch as the day is long, and that is what helped make him “the guy” in Toronto.
When he returns from injury, Siakam will get a chance to prove to management and the fanbase that he is the type of player who can be a foundational piece.
Asking for statistical highs while improving the Raptors’ fortunes in the standings may sound like a tall task, but Lowry was able to accomplish that during his second year in Toronto, and Siakam should shoot for that goal if he is cut from the same cloth.
While there are varying degrees when it comes to how good people think Siakam really is, everyone can agree that he is one of the better power forwards in the game and a quality interior scorer. Still, filling Lowry’s role is about more than just scoring or a max contract, and Nick Nurse will give him the chance to show he can fill it this year.