Can the Raptors contend Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet at the helm?

PORTLAND, OREGON - JANUARY 11: Fred VanVleet #23 and Pascal Siakam #43 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
PORTLAND, OREGON - JANUARY 11: Fred VanVleet #23 and Pascal Siakam #43 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /
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The 2021-22 NBA season has come to a close for the Toronto Raptors, as they lost in the first round of the NBA Playoffs against the Philadelphia 76ers in six games. Despite their surprising run to the postseason, speculation has begun to surround the Raptors’ star duo of Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam.

In the regular season, VanVleet was named an NBA All-Star for the first time, while Siakam put up an All-NBA-worthy second half of the season. With the Raptors firing on all cylinders, it looked like this could be the year the homegrown duo would make their presence felt in the association.

VanVleet battled nagging injuries during the playoffs, which ended sidelining him for the last two games of the series. When active, VanVleet did not look like himself averaging only 13 points per game. In the case of the fully-healthy Siakam, he started slowly before doing his best to pull off an impossible comeback.

With Siakam and VanVleet approaching the tail-end of their peaks in the next few seasons, the Raptors will need to examine if a team led by Siakam inside and VanVleet outside can contend in the East within the upcoming half-decade.

Can the Toronto Raptors contend with Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet?

Playoff History

Since the 2019 championship season, the Raptors have only managed to win one playoff series. 2022 was the first time the Raptors’ dynamic duo was put to the test with no Kawhi Leonard or Kyle Lowry to lead the way, and they ultimately came up short.

While both Siakam and VanVleet were instrumental in securing the Raptors their first NBA championship, they both have an individually disappointing playoff series on their resume. The duo faced their first actual test this playoff series, and VanVleet’s injury coupled with poor performances against Tyrese Maxey sealed their doom.

The Toronto Raptors need more from these two in the playoffs.

The duo’s lack of production together was highlighted as they put together an all-time stinker in Game 3, combining for 24 points on 9-29 shooting from the field. This kind of performance showcased to the world that there are definite weaknesses within the Raptors’ core.

Even though Siakam had a breakthrough postseason run after VanVleet was removed from the lineup due to injury, we need to see both players on the court together before any final judgments can be made.

Had VanVleet been at full health, perhaps this outcome would be different. At this point, however, all we can do is point fingers and speculate as to what this pair’s ceiling is.