Moving

5 Questions the Raptors Have to Reply Earlier than Shifting Pascal Siakam to Golden State

Let’s start with this: it is rarely a good idea to sell a valuable asset at its lowest value.

If the Toronto Raptors decide to leave Pascal Siakam this off-season, a tumultuous 2020-21 season will follow as the 27-year-old recovers from a labral surgery that put his start to the 2021-22 season at risk. Right off the bat, it’s usually not a recipe for success when you’re dealing with a former All-NBA-caliber player who has at least shown that he can be number 2 on a very strong championship team.

All in all, an offer from the Golden State Warriors with the No. 7 pick, James Wiseman, presumably Andrew Wiggins, and possibly the 14th pick is certainly nothing to sneeze at, and according to The Athletic’s John Hollinger, something similar could be for the Raptors be available when they are ready to advance their star.

Hollinger’s report raises many questions that Bobby Webster and, presumably, Masai Ujiri must answer.

1. Did Pascal Siakam hit a wall? Is it declining?

The past 15 months have not been particularly kind to Siakam. After a great start to the 2019-20 season, his COVID-19 break in the NBA bubble was disappointing and he fought as the top dog for the Raptors in the playoffs. There was hope that what hurt him was just a minor hiccup, but 2020-21 didn’t go quite as planned either. His score dropped to 21.4 points per game at 29.7% three-point shooting and his defense did not recover to his seasonally level with the most improvements.

On the flip side, his style of play has improved a lot over the past season and at times he certainly seemed to get into a groove again as he attacked downhill and hit inside the arc. While he’s likely never to be # 1 in the NBA, all-star caliber players are not that easy to find, and Siakam certainly is that type of player. It’s too early to speak of stepping back, and Toronto may prefer to hold on to Siakam until he shows he can bring all of his skills back together.

2. Is James Wiseman a bust?

Writing off last season’s first overall win at the age of 20 seems a bit premature, especially considering that centers usually take a little longer to develop compared to their fellow watchmen. While he was certainly disappointing last season, with the right development program around him, there are still many benefits to be found in the 7 foot, 240 pound man.

3. How valuable is the 7th choice?

It looks like the 2021 NBA draft has a clear top four, with Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley, Jalen Green and Jalen Suggs leading the way. While these four are going to draw a lot of attention, the next group of players is pretty impressive too. It’s a list with Jonathan Kuminga, Scottie Barnes, Keon Johnson, Josh Giddey, James Bouknight, and Davion Mitchell. These players all have some glaring holes in their game, be it size, shooting ability, athleticism, or rawness, but they all have enough advantages to at least pique Toronto’s interest.

4. Can the Raptors win now?

Last season didn’t really seem like a fair indicator of how talented this Raptors roster is. Playing at home with no COVID-19 issues, Toronto certainly has enough talent to be an Eastern Conference playoff team, and probably a pretty good one. If they can bring back Kyle Lowry, Gary Trent Jr., and Khem Birch next year, they’ll have a pretty solid core once you slip in the fourth pick on the draft. It may not have potential for the NBA finals, but with some developments from Aunoby, Trent, Siakam, and the draft pick, there are enough perks to get close to the Eastern Conference.

That being said, it will be hard to compete with a healthy Brooklyn Nets team, the Boston Celtics should compete again with a few tweaks, the Miami Heat won’t go away next year, nor the Milwaukee Bucks or the Philadelphia 76ers, and all of a sudden the Atlanta Hawks are among the elite teams in the Eastern Conference. Siakam’s move for younger assets would allow Toronto to remodel in a snap and build around Trent, Anunoby, Malachi Flynn, fourth pick, seventh pick, and Wiseman, all with Fred VanVleet at the helm. This is a core group that, with the right development, shouldn’t take too long to fight again in the Eastern Conference.

5. Is it worth it?

Given Raptors’ track record of attracting all-star caliber players to Toronto, postponing one they already have is not an easy decision. It would cost a lot to tear Siakam away, but if Golden State is really ready to move a number of future assets for Siakam, the Raptors should at least listen to this conversation.

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