Raptors’ Winners and Losers after hectic start to 2022-23 season

MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 24: Pascal Siakam #43 of the Toronto Raptors high fives Fred VanVleet #23 (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 24: Pascal Siakam #43 of the Toronto Raptors high fives Fred VanVleet #23 (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images) /
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Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, and the Toronto Raptors were done no favors by the NBA schedule-makers, as they started the season off with four straight games, three of which came on the road, against teams expected to be in the playoffs. They’ve come away from these contests with a 2-2 record.

After beating the new-look Cavaliers at home, Toronto dropped two straight against the offensively loaded Nets and always-difficult Heat. Following a hard-fought, low-scoring victory on Monday night, Toronto got back on track before an important homestand started.

The Raptors have seen most of their star players perform commiserate to what their paycheck demands, but the team has seen a few players get off to some poor starts that need to quickly be stamped out if this team wants to become serious about fulfilling their contending aspirations.

Amid this 2-2 start, there have been some clear winners who appear ready to kick butt and take names this season and some struggling players who need to turn things around. Which players have put themselves in the prior, more attractive category?

Toronto Raptors Winners and Losers after crazy start

Winner: Pascal Siakam

The Raptors are only going to go as far as Siakam takes them this season, as the masterful offensive performances of No. 43 have established him as one of the game’s premier forwards over the last few years. 2022-23 is shaping up to be his finest season yet.

Siakam has averaged 26.5 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 6.8 assists per game in the first four contests. Consider that the Heat victory, in which he recorded 23 points, nine rebounds, and six assists, was his worst performance of the year. Another All-NBA season is loading.

Pascal Siakam has been on fire for the Toronto Raptors.

Siakam has done this while Fred VanVleet’s shot attempts are way down compared to last year, Scottie Barnes is nursing an ankle injury, and Otto Porter Jr. has played the same number of minutes as you and I. The Raptors aren’t operating at peak efficiency, but Pascal sure is.

Siakam hasn’t been great from 3-point range, but he’s hit big jumpers when he’s needed to be Mr. Clutch in the fourth quarter. With Toronto in the middle of this stretch of death to start the season, they’ll lean on No. 43 to bail them out of all the tight jams they find themselves in.