Pascal Siakam is likely going to be an essential part of the rotation for the Toronto Raptors this season. Siakam was the Raptors starting power forward to begin last year but fell out of the rotation after the All-Star Break.
Current PF Rotation?
With Patrick Patterson gone Toronto will have to fill his 25 minutes per game. Even though the Raptors have said they want to play Serge Ibaka more at center, he will likely start at power forward. The Raptors are loaded with fives and extremely thin at the four position. Pascal Siakam will likely play between 15-20 minutes per game.
5 Reasons to Believe in Siakam
1) Pascal Siakam is an above average defender
2) He has good mobility
3) Pascal Siakam is a decent rebounder
4) He is a good two-point shooter
5) Pascal Siakam is a decent shot blocker
The Loss of The Patman
ESPN projected the Raptors to win 43.4 games in the coming season and to finish 6th in the Eastern Conference based on real plus minus. Kevin Pelton stated that RPM rates Patrick Patterson as a more valuable player than Serge Ibaka. I think it is evident Patterson was better than his box score stats. He only averaged 6.8 points and 4.5 rebounds per game while shooting 40.1% from the field this last season (37.2 3P%). On paper that doesn’t look exciting, but the Raptors played best with Patterson on the floor. It is clear he made the players around him better on both ends of the court, but I think saying he is better than Serge Ibaka is a bit of a stretch. RPM is a good metric, but like any one stat, you have to take it with a grain of salt.
Pascal Siakam started for the Raptors last season and fans seemed enthused with his play. Siakam played well for the 27th pick in the draft. However, I did notice whenever he was on the floor the paint got clogged. In this era of the NBA, you will rarely see two big men in the paint at the same time on the offensive side of the ball. If you are not spacing the floor, it is hard to open up shooters. The way the Raptors shoot from three they need the most open shooters, they can get. If the Raptors use Pascal on the perimeter more, it could create a more efficient offense.
Can Pascal Siakam Shoot Threes?
If Pascal Siakam can shoot threes in the NBA, he will be the power forward solution for the Raptors. Last year he only attempted seven and made one. That small sample size honestly tells me nothing. Siakam has shown in the D-League and summer league he can hit threes at a good clip, but then again, it’s a relatively small sample.
Can Pascal Siakam Defend on the Perimeter?
Pascal Siakam is good at sticking with his man. We have not seen a lot of Siakam guarding three-point shooters. He has shown the mobility to rotate from the perimeter to the paint as his man drives and attempts to attack the basket. The next thing I want to see is Pascal close out on a set three-point shooter. He certainly has the foot speed and leaping ability to do that.
What Other Positions Can Pascal Siakam Play?
As I mentioned Pascal Siakam has good mobility. In this last summer league, Siakam looked like a spire small forward. He put on a show with how quickly he could get to the basket. At 6’9” you typically don’t have many players with that kind of speed. If he can deliver this skill along with three-point shooting in the NBA Pascal will have the ability to play small forward. Being a good defender and the fact we are seeing more small ball in the NBA, Siakam probably has the ability to play spot minutes at center. On the other hand, the Raptors are loaded with guys that can play center in Valanciunas, Ibaka, Poeltl, and Bebe, so they probably won’t need Siakam to play at the five.
Other Options At PF
Aside from Serge Ibaka and Pascal Siakam, the Raptors don’t have a lot of options at power forward. Let’s be clear Bruno Caboclo is not a viable option in the NBA. When OG Anunoby is healthy, I think the expectation is that he will be able to play at either forward slot. Until then the Raptors have the ability to go small and play DeRozan, Powell, and Miles together. A lineup containing those guys should work well offensively. However, defensively it is probably a bit weak. Of those three guys whoever is forced to play power forward probably is not sufficient of a rebounder to get up on the defensive glass. Since there aren’t a lot of other options, Serge Ibaka and Pascal Siakam are going to get the majority of the power forward minutes.
Who Pairs Well With Siakam
Ideally, on the Raptors roster, Serge Ibaka matches best with Pascal Siakam. Ibaka can stretch the floor and protect the rim, so he is going to pair well with anyone. That is not to say Siakam cannot play well with Valanciunas, Poeltl, or Bebe.
The Raptors have had issues at power forward since Chris Bosh left. Serge Ibaka is an excellent player and will likely start at power forward. If Pascal Siakam can hit threes and get up on opposing three point shooters, he will be the power forward solution off the bench.