Despite the Toronto Raptors’ significant changes to their roster and coaching staff, their main goal remains securing a playoff spot this season. However, NBA writer Mark Medina points out a critical issue: the team’s failure to effectively utilize Pascal Siakam, hampering their offensive flow. Meanwhile, Scottie Barnes has been thrust into a larger role, raising questions about the balance in the Raptors’ offensive strategy.
Raptors’ Off-Season Overhaul and New Challenges
The Raptors underwent a major transformation in the off-season, parting ways with head coach Nick Nurse and appointing Darko Rajakovic as his replacement. This period of transition was marked by the departure of Fred VanVleet to the Houston Rockets and the acquisition of Dennis Schroder from the L.A. Lakers. The team also managed to retain Jakob Poetl, enhancing their defensive capabilities. However, these changes have led to a disorganized start to the season, particularly in terms of ball distribution and offensive organization.
Medina’s Assessment: A Shift in Focus Needed
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According to Medina, the Raptors, still in a rebuilding phase since Kawhi Leonard’s departure, need to refocus their offense. “The ball movement isn’t good, it’s disorganized,” Medina stated to GIVEMESPORT. He emphasizes the need for the Raptors to ensure the ball reaches their more productive players, particularly Siakam, who is currently not receiving enough opportunities to shoot. Conversely, Barnes has been handling the ball more, leading to an increase in turnovers. Medina suggests that improving ball movement and focusing on veteran players like Siakam could be key to the Raptors’ success.
Siakam’s Struggle Under Rajakovic
Under coach Rajakovic, Siakam’s involvement in the offense has seen a noticeable decline. His scoring averages have dropped significantly compared to last season, and he’s taking fewer shots, leading to a decrease in his overall offensive impact. In contrast, Barnes has seen an increase in his shooting attempts and scoring average, although this has come with a rise in turnovers.
The Path Forward: Maximizing Siakam’s Impact
For the Raptors to return to winning ways, it’s crucial for Rajakovic to find a way to integrate Siakam more effectively into the offense. As Siakam enters the final year of his contract, his performance this season could have significant implications for his future with the team, including potential eligibility for a substantial contract extension.
Conclusion: Balancing Talent for Raptors’ Revival
The Raptors face a challenging situation. To reach their playoff aspirations, they must strike a balance between empowering their established star, Pascal Siakam, and harnessing the potential of rising talent like Scottie Barnes. This balancing act will be crucial in defining their season and their future in a competitive Eastern Conference.