Pascal Siakam and the Toronto Raptors not only saw their record decline in the 2022-23 season due to a myriad of on-court problems that have been discussed ad infinitum, but the souring of the locker room played a big part in the decline. It seemed like everyone was perpetually on a knife edge.
The surprising signing of Dennis Schroder and hiring of Darko Rajakovic was as much about what they could do behind closed doors as what they could do on the floor. With some veteran mentors returning to the back end of the roster, Toronto is all business ahead of what could be a pivotal campaign.
Schroder and Siakam, both of whom would be starters who must assume pivotal roles on this squad, appear to be hitting it off already. Given Siakam and Schroder’s mutual love of soccer, the Cameroonian big man and award-winning German point guard are already connecting.
In a video posted on his Instagram story, Schroder and Siakam were playing a game of keepy-uppy prior to their demolition of the Washington Wizards. After mentioning that he wanted to connect with Siakam and goof around with him pregame, Schroder had accomplished that dream.
For the first time in a while, despite the trade saga hanging over Siakam, the vibes are back.
Dennis Schroder, Pascal Siakam restoring Toronto Raptors’ vibes.
Even players like Scottie Barnes were willing to acknowledge all the issues that went into last season’s team, as it was hard to get any sort of positive momentum. With so many players fighting for shots under an aggressive coach like Nick Nurse, every loss seemed like the end of the world.
Rajakovic was brought in to install a very open offense that featured less slowed-down iso ball and more temp, quick passes, and spreading the wealth around. The preseason is what it is, but the results have been hard to argue with so far.
Schroder’s passing was on full display against the Wizards, as he piled up 11 assists in 23 minutes and amassed seven in the third quarter. Siakam is assuredly going to be on the end of many Schroder passes this season, which will only keep the good vibes rolling.
While Schroder has developed a reputation as an intense player, his nature also makes for a very loose off-court environment. With some of the holdovers from last year’s cursed campaign not in town, Toronto can move forward with an obnoxiously positive team looking to catch the world off-guard.