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Toronto Raptors Bay Street Journal, January 29th

Welcome to another edition of the Bay Street Journal. Much like the stock market this week, the Raptors were also extremely volatile, at certain times looking like a team on their way to putting the early season woes behind them, and at other times looking unfocused and outmatched.

After falling 126-124 to the Sacramento Kings, it’s time to take another look at whose stock is rising and whose is falling:

Stock Up: Pascal Siakam Gets His Offence Back on Track

Say what you will about this performance being against the Kings’ historically bad defence, but Pascal Siakam is starting to get back on track to some degree. Tonight, he looked aggressive against Sacramento, pouring in 32 points on 11-for-20 shooting. While the Kings offered very little resistance in the paint, Siakam took full advantage, getting to the free throw line 14 times and hitting 10 of his attempts.

This is hopefully a sign that Siakam is ready to put a rough start to the season behind him. Even if Siakam doesn’t reach the 23.6 points-per-game that he averaged in the 2019-2020 season, as long as he can maintain long stretches of efficient shooting and continue to find buckets within the flow of the offence, Raptors fans won’t complain so long as it translates to wins.

Stock Down: Disjointed Defence

Despite a nice stretch in the middle of the fourth quarter defensively, the Raptors continue to show a troubling pattern of inconsistency on this end of the floor that’s reared its ugly head all week. The Kings seemingly got wherever they wanted on the floor en-route to a 126-point effort.

The Raptors looked out of sync all night after crumbling late against both the Indiana Pacers and Milwaukee Bucks late in the fourth quarter earlier this week. The Raptors flipped the trend a bit in this game, as they looked worse in the first three quarters, but they ultimately couldn’t complete the comeback.

The Raptors will take on the 28th-ranked offence in the league on Sunday in the Orlando Magic. They’ll need to use this game to fix their defensive struggles and try to right the ship before things really get out of control.

Futures Option: Yuta Watanabe’s Hustle

He’s been quietly working at it all season, but it looks like Yuta Watanabe is finally finding himself a permanent spot in the rotation.

Watanabe was part of the closing unit against the Kings in part due to his role in turning the defence around in the fourth quarter. He is seemingly everywhere you need him to be on the court, he rotates well, makes smart decisions, doesn’t try to do too much with the ball, and the coaches are taking notice.

Yuta has now played double digit minutes in each of the team’s past four games, after doing so only three times in the team’s first 15 games of the season. The Raptors have been searching for someone to play solid team defence off the bench as well as provide energy and hustle consistently. Watanabe just may be that person.

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