The Toronto Raptors have had an interesting few games, to say the least.
Fresh off another title for Champa Bay as the Buccaneers captured a Super Bowl win on Sunday, the Raptors tried to keep the good vibes going, but finished at 2-2 for the week. They managed to defeat the Memphis Grizzlies and Washington Wizards, while dropping games to the Boston Celtics and Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Raptors did not play any defensive juggernauts, by any means, but they still had an impressive week in the scoring department, eclipsing 110 points on three separate occasions. Defensively, they had their hands full all week, but they did a great job for the most part, shutting down the likes of Ja Morant, Bradley Beal, Jayson Tatum, and Karl-Anthony Towns. Unfortunately, against the Celtics and Wolves, the players they dared to beat them did just that, with big games from Payton Pritchard and Semi Ojeleye for Boston, and Ricky Rubio in a spot start for Minnesota.
Overall, it was a very nice effort for the Raptors this past week. There were several players that had excellent weeks and led the way for the team, and that made choosing one player above the rest to be more difficult than anticipated.
That being said, the rules dictate there can only be one, so without further ado, your Raptor of the Week is…
Pascal Siakam (This Week’s Stats: 24.3 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 4.0 APG, 49.3% FG, 57.9% 3FG)
It finally appears as though Pascal Siakam’s shaky start to the season is firmly behind him.
Siakam turned in several brilliant performances this week and he is beginning to look like the player we saw pre-bubble last season. Even despite a down night against Minnesota — which included a missed game-tying bucket — the scoring and efficiency has returned in a big way. Even better is that he is contributing across the board to winning on the court. His passing has improved and he’s been a much better defender than he was at the start of the season.
Pascal has driven his turnaround by fixing the three big areas that were plaguing him early on. He has drastically cut back his turnovers and his fouls and the shot selection has greatly improved, thanks in part to a rediscovery of his three-point shot.
He hasn’t had to work as hard to score the ball and he is redirecting his energy to playing more of an all-around game, which is really when Siakam is at his best. It helps that the Raptors are putting him in smaller lineups and forcing lots of turnovers that have helped open up his game in transition. Siakam’s speed is a weapon and the Raptors are doing a much better job overall at utilizing it.
This now marks two consecutive weeks in which Siakam has played really well and now that he’s found his rhythm, it’s going to be a problem for other teams. This is what Raptors fans had hoped to see after a subpar performance in the bubble and his strong play has correlated with the Raptors winning more games.
No more Dry Salt & Pepper Seasoning P. Spicy P is BACK.
Norman Powell (This week’s stats: 23.5 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 1.5 APG, 54.8% FG, 55.0% 3FG)
The race between Norman Powell and Siakam for Raptor of the Week was neck-and-neck practically the entire time; Powell’s week should not be overlooked. A few days ago, we detailed Powell’s impact as a starter and he continued to produce as he was the Raptors’ most consistent scoring threat all week long.
There is no telling what will happen once OG Anunoby returns to the lineup as to whether Powell will keep starting or return to the bench, but he has seriously given Nick Nurse something to consider. The Raptors are a much better team when he starts, he is a much better player when he starts, and it’s going to be tough to send him back to the bench when he is on a roll like this.
Kyle Lowry (This week’s stats: 15.8 PPG, 4.0 APG, 1.3 SPG, 60.5% FG, 50.0% 3FG)
Despite only playing eight minutes against the Memphis Grizzlies due to back spasms, Lowry returned to the lineup and delivered three very solid games afterward. As per usual, Lowry did a little bit of everything when his team needed him to. He played a crucial role in shutting down opposing stars as they came his way and was able to carry the offensive burden as Fred VanVleet cooled off in the latter part of the week.
Kyle Lowry is still this team’s heart and soul on most nights and for as long as he’s here, that will never change.