Hearing team president Masai Ujiri say “we’re gonna go wherever you guys take us” this summer was all that Toronto Raptors star Pascal Siakam needed. Siakam is ready to not only prove the haters wrong, but to step up and lead this Raptors team along with his fellow ring-bearing brothers, Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby, as they head into a new era.
“If it’s playing more defense, if it’s scoring more points, if it’s being more of a vocal leader, or maybe more someone who leads by example, that’s what I wanna do,” Siakam told the assemblage of media on Monday. “I don’t like the term ‘the guy’… I just wanna be the guy who wins.”
Siakam faced his share of challenges in the 2020-21 season, even before his shoulder injury in May, and the resultant surgery in June.
As the year began, he was coming off a bubble”experience in the 2020 playoffs that left many questioning his game. While he performed admirably in some aspects last season, the haters reared their ugly heads again after Siakam suffered an inexplicable four potential buzzer-beating, game-winning, or tying shots that excruciatingly rimmed in and out.
Combine that with the flurry of trade rumors that flooded the NBA news cycle throughout the off-season, and Siakam admitted he was struggling with it all.
Toronto Raptors star Pascal Siakam is ready to lead this season.
But after a summer spent rehabbing his surgically-repaired shoulder (he should be ready to return shortly after the start of the season), and using all that shade to fuel himself and recharge his batteries, we could be seeing a Pascal Siakam in 2021-22 primed to lift his game to new heights.
Perhaps nothing will propel him into a new role more than the official passing-of-the-torch from the departed Kyle Lowry.
VanVleet spoke about Siakam’s frustration after signing his big max contract. Pascal expected to be “the man”, but not really being able to be it, because the greatest Raptor of all time was still ahead of him in the “pecking order of basketball chemistry”, according to VanVleet.
Now, that chemistry has changed.
“Kyle is such a natural leader,” Siakam said. “and his presence was definitely felt… Now, obviously, with Kyle gone, there’s no question (where he stands in the ‘pecking order’).”
This is Pascal’s team, and there’s every reason to believe he’s ready for it. In the past, he’s shown that he can score, that he can hit threes, that he can rebound, and he’s stepped up his passing game. He’s more than motivated now to put it all together; to take the ball and run with it.
When he returns from his shoulder ailment, expect No. 43 to get into a groove and produce arguably the best statistical season of his career.