The Toronto Raptors can’t exactly claim to have had the most effective preseason in the world, but they have had some moments to look back on fondly. At 2-2, the path to this mark has been full of dominant wins and some concerning defeats.
Things started great, with two straight wins against a rebuilding Jazz team and a Celtics squad with eyes on contention. Things quickly got off track against the Houston Rockets and Chicago Bulls, Toronto was handed consecutive 16-point and 17-point defeats.
After one more exhibition against Boston, Toronto will get ready for their regular season schedule, kicking off with a home opener against a motivated Cavaliers team. Hopefully, Nick Nurse has a better idea of where key players stand and which areas this team is struggling in.
It’s time to take stock of where the Raptors are at this point. Which players should have their heads held high after blowing through their preseason competition? Should any players be subject to some sort of criticism after a sluggish beginning to the 2021-22 campaign?
Stock up, stock down after 4 Toronto Raptors preseason games
Stock up: Pascal Siakam
While the five starters didn’t set the world on fire with their performance in this game, Pascal looked like the unquestioned best player of the bunch. After Scottie Barnes laid an egg in the Houston game and Fred VanVleet struggled from 3-point range, Siakam took matters into his own hands.
Siakam scored 16.3 points per game in his last three outings, coming one rebound shy of a double-double against the Bulls. After turning the ball over multiple times in the Utah win, flashes of All-NBA Siakam started to pop up once again and keep Toronto in this game.
Pascal Siakam is leading the charge for the Toronto Raptors.
Siakam needs to come into the season as sharp as possible, as only one of Toronto’s first 10 games will come against a team that missed the playoffs and play-in tournament last season (sorry, San Antonio). Even in limited playing time, Siakam has routinely looked like the most dominant player on the floor.
Making All-NBA for the third time in his career might seem difficult for Siakam, but his strong finish to the year shows that he is playing at his performative peak right now. There are some questions surrounding this team, but Pascal’s play is not one of them.