The Toronto Raptors have asked Scottie Barnes to shoulder most of the offensive load in the early parts of the 2023-24 season, as names like Pascal Siakam have been mired in long cold snaps. If the Raptors are going to go anywhere this year, their Cameroonian star needs to step up.
The Dallas Mavericks provided them with an opportunity to get back on track. While Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving have combined to give Dallas one of the best offenses in the NBA, their defense is still a bit more of a work in progress than most contenders with an eye on a ring.
The Raptors survived a Mavericks onslaught early on and pulled out a very impressive 127-116 road win. While Barnes mustered 14 points, with just two coming in the first half, Siakam picked up the slack with 31 points on 15-25 shooting and 12 rebounds. OG Anunoby chipped in with 26 points of his own.
While the half-court offense was unwatchable at points this season, nights like Wednesday and Toronto’s domination of the mighty Bucks show that when Siakam gets hot, the Raptors have an offense capable of blowing past last year’s marks and getting them into the postseason discussion.
Pascal Siakam proves the Toronto Raptors’ offense can be legitimate.
Both Nick Nurse and Darko Rajakovic have struggled with finding a solution to empowering both Barnes and Siakam to let both of them shine consistently. At the very least, getting Siakam back on his feet is better than watching an All-NBA player struggle to get 10 points as a spot-up shooter.
The assertiveness and control the popular trade target Siakam showed early and often in this game was a marked change from the last few contests. Siakam and Anunoby were to be in charge of leading this offense from the jump, and Barnes did his part by deferring to the hot hands and setting them up as a playmaker.
Siakam getting back on track helped the entire offense get in a groove. Gary Trent Jr. appeared to break out of his malaise off the bench, Malachi Flynn had his best game in quite a long time, and Chris Boucher turned in a very efficient performance when he got on the floor. This is the offense Rajakovic dreamed about.
The Raptors can’t perform well in every single game where Barnes has that little of an impact on the scoreboard, but Siakam and Anunoby showing how high the ceiling can be for both themselves individually and the offense as a whole is a blessing for the much-heralded Scottie.
Barnes doesn’t have to be Superman every night for this attack to work.