The Toronto Raptors are rounding into form at the perfect time. After an unequivocally successful regular season nevertheless beset by injuries to key players, random absences of Kawhi Leonard, and integration of multiple new rotation pieces, Nick Nurse's team has won five games in a row by an average of 15.8 points, and is suddenly only two and-a-half games back of the league-leading Milwaukee Bucks in the standings.
The Raptors, of course, are still very unlikely to catch the Bucks for basketball's best record and home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. Their esteemed recent level of play, though, is still an indication of what some have assumed for months: Toronto is Milwaukee's biggest threat in the Eastern Conference.
What development might help the Raptors beat the Bucks, and any other team, for that matter, in a potential playoff matchup? As Pascal Siakam suggested to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski on The Woj Pod, more aggression from Marc Gasol could help Toronto take the next step.
Siakam, discussing what it's like to play with such an unselfish star like Gasol, told Wojnarowski that he sometimes feels compelled to remind his new teammate to “Shoot the ball!”
The Raptors, of course, didn't acquire Gasol at the trade deadline to be a high-usage scorer. They already have one of the league's best wing scorers in Leonard, and Siakam's comfort with the ball in his hands seems to grow by the day. The attribute that made Gasol so attractive to Toronto is his ability to serve as an offensive fulcrum at the elbow and on the block, finding cutters, setting screens, and looking for his shot when the opportunity presents itself. His post defense in potential matchups with the likes of Joel Embiid and even DeMarcus Cousins could loom large, too.
Still, Gasol could certainly stand to be a bit more aggressive shooting the ball, especially from beyond the arc, where he's shooting 42.6 percent since the trade. His rate of three-point attempts with the Raptors is the lowest it's been since before he first started launching from deep in 2016-17.
Will Gasol suddenly become a go-to guy for Toronto in the playoffs? That's unlikely, but don't be surprised if such a gifted offensive players like him comes up big as a scorer when his team needs it most, regardless of Siakam's prodding.