The Toronto Raptors will look to defend their title without NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard because he decided to leave them for the Los Angeles Clippers. The Raptors still plan to remain competitive in the 2019-20 NBA season, but reaching the NBA Finals for the second straight year feels close to impossible. Simply making the playoffs is a more likely scenario for them, but who will step up and fill the void that Kawhi left?
It will have to be a team effort, but Pascal Siakam is the main man who will carry the torch into the future. The incoming fourth-year veteran has shown flashes of his All-Star potential, and without Leonard, he’ll definitely have a bigger role with the Raptors moving forward.
Siakam posted averages of 16.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 3.1 assists last season. He also shot 54 percent from the field and 36 percent from beyond the arc. These numbers led him to win the Most Improved Player award, and if his performance in the NBA Finals was any indication, he’s bound to have a spectacular season for Toronto.
The Raptors are seemingly on their way to a rebuild, and it’s possible that guys like Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol, and Serge Ibaka are traded before the season ends. They will look to give the keys of the franchise to Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet, two players who will likely be a part of their long-term future.
So, what should we expect from Siakam this upcoming season? His production has increased in his first three seasons in the league, so he’ll probably have an even better year now that he’s set to be the focal point.
Pascal Siakam will be an All-Star next season. It wouldn’t surprise anyone to see him post at least 22 points and 10 rebounds per game. Toronto’s future is bright with him as one of its cornerstones.
Will Siakam lead the Raptors to the playoffs? If they keep the core intact, yes. Gasol, Lowry, and Ibaka are experienced veterans who provide stability on both ends of the floor. They will also be great mentors for Siakam as he transitions into becoming the main man in Toronto. However, if they decide to shake things up and trade those players before the trade deadline, they could end up outside the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
The Raptors’ dynasty was over before it could even begin, but they have several pieces that will allow them to have a headstart over other rebuilding teams. Of course, the hope is for Siakam to gradually improve next season. But the Raptors understand it’s a long process, and they certainly don’t want to put too much pressure on their future star.
But at the end of the day, Siakam is confident about what he can do. He believes he can be a superstar (Masai Ujiri sees this in him), and he’ll definitely put in all the work to make that happen.
Pascal Siakam once said that his performance last season was just a taste of things to come. Now, he’s ready to take his game to an All-Star level, and he’s going to make sure that he puts the league on notice.