Did Pascal Siakam meet his own expectations this season?

Imman Adan and Adon Moss look at the numbers behind Pascal Siakam's 2022-23 season. Also, they discuss if the front court of Siakam, Scottie Barnes and Jakob Poeltl can work. Listen to the full podcast assigning grades for all the starters on the 'Raptors Over Everything' podcast feed

Video Transcript

IMAN ADAN: But Pascal Siakam, what are your thoughts on Pascal Siakam? What grade would you give the man, the myth, the legend, the star himself?

ADON MOSS: This might be crazy, I gave him a B.

IMAN ADAN: I gave him a B-plus.

ADON MOSS: OK, so we're running kind of the same. I kind of dove into the stats a little bit. And it wasn't as great as I had remembered in comparison to last year. And really, what this comes down-- I mean, Pascal is great.

And I am comfortable saying I'm OK with him being a number one option on a team, maybe 1B is ideal. But I'm OK. And with that comes this great expectation. With great responsibility, great expectation. It's very clear that he is number one on the hierarchy of the Raptors team.

And so he has to bear the brunt of the responsibility that this team underperformed, I think. And so when I put that in combination with essentially not much better of a year than last year, I just kind of give him one thumbs up, like an average score essentially.

IMAN ADAN: I'm with you on all of those things. I think if-- once again, for a lot of these guys, a season, it's so long that if we break them down into parts, the beginning of Pascal Siakam season, A-plus. Again, what he was able to do-- and then, of course, the groin injury happens against the Dallas Mavericks. And that sort of changes things when he comes back into the fold.

But I'm with you, in that someone needs to take the brunt of this team sort of faltering. And a lot of that is going to be shouldered on the stars, which is why I was so harsh on Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam, because I think both of them should shoulder a lot of that.

Like I think with Fred, as I said, a B-minus. I gave him a B-minus. It's not as harsh as a C-plus. But I think a lot of that sort of falls on the fact that we needed your shooting. And your role is to do that. But also he fulfilled his role in other places as well, being the facilitator, being the point guard, the only point guard on this team.

And with Pascal, it's the same thing. It's you're the star. And in these moments, I think really, what sort of made him fall down to the B for me-- and I'm comfortable with a B or B-plus as sort of, that's where I was sort of differing between. He wasn't touching an A for me, just because I thought, far too often, especially in the second half of the year as the Raptors were sort of making a push, he kind of got lost in it a little bit.

You saw a lot of that, especially in fourth quarters, where it just felt like, OK, the ball is not finding Pascal. And he's not demanding-- I think as a star, the offense should run more through you. And as the Raptors sort of struggle in the clutch, you're looking for the ball to go to your star and your star to sort of bring you home. And that's not something that we saw a lot from Pascal Siakam, especially in the second half of the year. I think we saw more of that in the beginning of the year. And it was great to watch.

And yeah, so to me, that's sort of like-- I just felt like he was a little too invisible at parts of the season. And that's not something that you want from someone that you want to be your All-NBA guy, someone who could potentially make the supermax, someone who's supposed to sort of carry you home. You don't need your guy to be invisible in those moments. And I thought, far too often, Pascal Siakam, in that second part of the year, just sort of faded. Yeah.

ADON MOSS: That struck me as well when I was kind of critiquing him, again, because he's the number one option. But again, I'm also torn with how much of this is system, and how much of this is just, again, not having a real point guard to direct it. I mean, it's one thing to fade away and shy away from the moment.

It's another that does not have the opportunity to get the ball or get plays designed for you or get good plays designed for you. And so I am in agreement with you. I think ultimately, he didn't step up when we really needed him to.

But I also don't think he was given-- and this is kind of the dilemma with arguing about the Raptors is like, was this team set up for failure, or are these players just not good enough to the expectation set upon them?

IMAN ADAN: I think that's more than fair. I completely agree with you on that. And I think the way that I sort of took this exercise and why I think these exercises are fun is because there's so many different ways that people can look at it.

And to me, it's like, OK, these are the cards that you're dealt. These are the rules that you have. How did you fulfill them? Because I think that next year, we're talking about this team very different. I think Pascal Siakam is a star. I'm so pro-Pascal Siakam. I think he can be your guy in those moments. I think we saw him be that guy.

Same thing with Fred VanVleet. I think Fred VanVleet is an All-Star. I think Fred VanVleet is an elite defender. Like I mentioned, he should have been on a defensive team last year. He was, rightfully, an All-Star. He's this team's best playmaker, best point guard, and the only point guard on the team.

OG Anunoby, I think he's phenomenal. Pascal Siakam-- the reason why we're grading these starters so high is because there is a dearth of talent on this team. There's a reason why, when the trade deadline came around, everybody wanted every single Raptor because the starters are good. It was the bench that was the problem, as we've seen.

And so the same goes for Pascal Siakam. And it's just like, you came into the season wanting to be top five. That's what he came into the season wanting to be. You've been second team All-NBA. You've, been third team All-NBA coming off of an All-NBA ballot last year and hoping to make one this year, although probably seems a little tight. You need to make one extra if you want to make the supermax.

You're sort of in this tier with these stars of the league. And it's the same way that I would sort of judge any of those other stars of the league. I'm just trying to-- Pascal, this is your team. And your imprint was not felt.

And I'm judging him, I think, a little bit harshly than I normally would as a sort of Raptor fan defending him in these spaces. And I think that's just because you're the number one guy. And if you're going to be the number one guy, these are the things that we're going to need from you.

If I'm judging you from this supermax player level talent, these are where I need you to step up. These are the moments. And it just felt like, far too often, we didn't get to see that Pascal, especially in fourth quarters, it felt like, and especially towards the latter half of the season.

And by that, I just mean All-Star break forward because the way that the NBA breaks the season up, first half is like pre-All-Star, which is like three-quarters of the season. And then the last half is just the quarter of the season. But still needed more from Pascal and didn't have it. And that's why the team is 41-41.

I have to blame you a little bit for it. So you're going to get a B-plus from me.

ADON MOSS: Totally. Also, if you're going to be the primary scorer and you're not a big, you can't really shoot 33% from 3. He's 30th percentile for forwards. Again, if you want to be a superstar, if you want to be the guy on our team, you've got to be able to do that.

So it's OK. You've expanded in other ways. His assist percentage is up. His turnover percentage is down. His usage is up, blah, blah, blah. But you've got to bang your 3's.

IMAN ADAN: That's a large part of it for me as well. I was going through my notes to try to find what my justifications were. And a large part of it was. Pullup shooting's gone down. But in general, that 3-point shooting is down. And that's what this Raptors team needs.

It's something that me and Amit have talked about a few times on here, which is, you are going to start-- or you're currently starting three guys who can't shoot, Pascal, Scottie, and Jakob. You need Pascal to develop that. You need Pascal to not be so below league average.

He needs to be able to take that up. And I think that the 3-point shooting just not being there is a knock on Pascal Siakam. You just need more of it. You just need more of it. I told you, if you want it to be top five, Pascal, come up with that pullup 3-point shooting, and you're there. But until you even have a catch-and-shoot 3, we can't be having you in that conversation. So let's move forward.