Kyle Lowry was the undisputed player of the game, putting up 27 points and eight assists while going 10-of-12 from the floor and 5-of-6 from beyond the arc. Kawhi Leonard made his long awaited debut, and notched a double-double with 24 points and 13 rebounds.
While the two main starlets certainly impressed, I’m here to talk about a guy who’s performance may have flown under the radar. The man in question is Pascal Siakam.
Enter, Mr. Siakam
Siakam was set to make a big jump this year, and the former first round pick certainly impressed in his season debut. He put up a solid 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting, and looked increasingly comfortable as the game proceeded on defense. He also hit one 3-pointer, which bodes well for his future as an NBA player.
My biggest knock on Siakam entering the season was his handle and ability to finish at the rim. Last season, there were countless times he would botch a wide open layup, or lose the ball trying to do too much with it.
Confidence, Confidence, Confidence
I loved Siakam’s aggressiveness last night. When being defended by the bigger Kevin Love, Siakam used his lighter frame to his benefit.
When in space, Love simply could not guard him. His speed and improved handle put him in a position to succeed from which I’ve never seen before. Throughout the game, he abused this matchup and put the ball on the floor with confidence.
great sequence from siakam:— William Lou (@william_lou) October 18, 2018
– attacks closeout and scores around Love
– help at the rim to force miss
– pushes pace and finds leonard for three pic.twitter.com/xd5XS0K1qL
Beyond scoring, he created plays for his team by moving fluidly in stride and keeping his head on a swivel all night, consistently finding his teammates open and putting them in a good position. He has the tools to become a solid two way threat for the Raptors.
Keep it rollin’
In a night of debuts, Siakam stole the show for me. If Siakam continues to put the ball on the floor and play with the same mindset we saw last night, he adds a new weapon to the Raptors’ arsenal.
Kyle Lowry and Kawhi Leonard may have been in the spotlight, but Siakam’s improvements in game one of 82 have me thinking that his starting spot in the rotation is here to stay.
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