You might imagine a worst-case scenario looking a lot like last year’s big man rotation, where Aron Baynes and Alex Len offered nothing at the center spot and Pascal Siakam struggled as an offensive focal point.
Nevertheless, some new additions and the promise of Scottie Barnes offer hope. If the Raptors are to make it to the postseason, they will need their big men to step up and make a difference.
What will it look like if all of these bigs hit their stride and dominate? What happens if they start to regress and turn the clock backward to last year’s nightmare year in Tampa?
Best and Worst case scenario for the Toronto Raptors bigs.
Siakam has probably had better summers than this past off-season, where the 27-year-old found himself the subject of trade speculation amidst reports of a rift with Nick Nurse last season. Then it was announced that he would require off-season shoulder surgery, putting him on the shelf for the early portion of the new campaign.
Best Case Scenario
It goes without saying that a full return to health is a big one here. Losing crucial time in training camp to adjust to new teammates is a tough blow, and Siakam will surely be a step or two behind when he does return to the court. That’s just the nature of his injury situation.
Still, there should be plenty of time left when Siakam is ready to return. As arguably the single greatest variable to the team’s overall performance, a speedy recovery and a productive return befitting a franchise star would qualify as a best-case option for both him and the Raptors organization.
That means reversing a trend that has seen his Player Efficiency Rating (PER) and Win Shares decrease in three consecutive seasons. As he enters the second year of his four-year extension, Siakam has the chance to again cement himself as a foundational piece moving forward with a strong bounce-back season.
Pascal Siakam is in line for a comeback season with the Toronto Raptors.
Worst Case Scenario
For as much opportunity as a redemptive season could offer Siakam, a disappointing 2021-22 could prove equally costly. Once trade rumors emerge, it’s awfully difficult to snuff them out, just ask Ben Simmons or Bradley Beal.
If the New Mexico State alum struggles out of the gate, as would be totally reasonable for a player post-surgery, how quickly will that speculation return?
What happens if Siakam starts slow, Barnes improves quickly, and the club’s early struggles show management that they aren’t ready to retool on the fly while still remaining in the playoff mix?
Suddenly, the $106 million still owed to the All-Star forward looks problematic and his age doesn’t totally jive with what would likely become a fully dedicated rebuild.