1. Pascal Siakam
Despite having mostly good numbers last season, everyone knew that Siakam did not have the best year last season. Siakam’s numbers were down compared to the 2019-20 season, but the numbers were still good except for his three-point percentage at just under 30%.
Siakam tested positive for COVID-19 back in late February. That caused him, Anunoby, Malachi Flynn, Patrick McCaw, and VanVleet to quarantine, and miss tons of minutes. The Toronto Raptors lost every single game except for one in March.
After recovering from the virus, Siakam realized he hadn’t been in an acceptable game shape at that point. He came back lighter, faster, and better than he was before. Just when things were looking up, he needed to go get surgery because of his injured shoulder and now he’s out until November.
The Raptors need him to go back to the player he was before the pandemic started. The player who won Most Improved Player in 2019, the guy who became an All-Star in 2020, and, most importantly, the man who was a big part to help the Raptors win their first-ever NBA Championship.
Pascal Siakam is primed for a huge season with the Raptors.
Once he comes back, I expect him to take it slow, get back to 100 percent one step at a time. When he’s healthy, however, Siakam’s game will be the deciding factor this season, for better or worse.
If he’s back to his pre-pandemic days, they have a great chance to be in the playoffs. If he’s still the Siakam from the bubble and the Siakam from early last season, it’s time to crank up all of the mock draft simulators and start eyeing Paolo Banchero.
If the Raptors want to get a post-season spot, VanVleet must take the leadership role that was once belonged to Lowry, Trent needs to be one of their primary scorers and Siakam needs to be healthy and be more consistent.
If all three things happen, they are back in the playoffs.