Pascal Siakam was one of the breakout talents of the league last year, averaging 22.9 PPG, 7.8 RPG, and 3.8 APG. He shot 35.9% from 3PT range and was considered by many to be the definition of an amazing modern power forward. However, Siakam started struggling during the playoffs, and his struggles seem to have continued into the 2020-21 season.
Hoop Central recently put out a tweet that summarized Siakam's struggles to start the season. The numbers aren't pretty, and honestly, don't seem good for someone who was billed to be a number one option. His defense has also been in a slump, as he has fouled out in the last two games of the four that he has played.
Pascal Siakam signed a huge contract extension after the 2019 Toronto Raptors championship run, which was worth 130 million dollars and should pay him upwards of 30 million dollars a year throughout the duration of his extension. In contrast, there are plenty of other players who have better production, and with much better contracts. Two prominent examples that most fans would know, are Zach LaVine and Jaylen Brown. Both are players who are currently better than Siakam, while also getting paid a lot less.
Zach LaVine's contract with the Chicago Bulls is a steal for the franchise for how good he is. LaVine is currently averaging 24.6 PPG, 4.7 RPG, and 3.7 APG while being a three-level scorer, who is a supernova on the offensive end of the ball. Zach LaVine is getting paid $19,500,000 for the 2020-21 season, compared to Pascal Siakam's $30,559,200. Jaylen Brown is a two-way wing who has no visible holes in his game: he does everything at a good level, and at times has looked better than co-star Jayson Tatum. Brown is averaging 28.0 PPG, 4.6 RPG, and 3.1 APG while also playing phenomenal defense on the perimeter. Brown is getting paid $22,735,119 for the 2020-21 season, which is also small compared to what Siakam gets paid this season.
While Siakam is still a decent player, the output just isn't there for the value of his contract. Other players have shown to be able to score at a high clip and be first options while getting paid a lot less for their production.
Pascal Siakam is still a one-time All-Star as of right now, that will never be taken away from him. He is a solid player. But perhaps he isn't quite at the level of being the first option on a team. Pascal Siakam was the second option during the 2019 Raptors championship run, averaging 19.0 PPG. But part of the reason for him being able to put up his stats was Kawhi Leonard being on the team: Leonard drew the attention of some of the best defenders on opposing teams, allowing Siakam to have an easier time attacking the basket and hunting mismatches. Siakam also had wide-open threes given to him, since teams were daring him to shoot.
Now, when defenses key in on him, Siakam seems to struggle. During the 2019-20 playoffs, Siakam had an abysmal showing as a first option, scoring only 17.0 PPG on 39.6% from the field, and 18.9% from 3PT range. If he had played at his regular-season level from last season, the Raptors may well have made it to the Conference Finals, perhaps even further. It is clear, that as a first option, Siakam has struggled. Siakam was also billed as a switchable defender who had the ability to guard any position. In recent games though, Siakam has been fouling out: he has been picking up unnecessary fouls, which in turn affect his offensive impact. A player can't score if they're sitting on the bench because they have too many fouls.
There are also the off-court concerns listed in Hoop Central's tweet. While Siakam has already been disciplined and re-inserted into the starting lineup, it could be a concern for the future. At the end of the day, if Siakam is going to be the #1 on the Raptors, he needs to iron out some of these concerns, and show that he can still play at an All-Star level.
Should The Raptors Trade Pascal Siakam?
The short answer to this question is a simple no. Siakam's value is at it's lowest right now when factoring in his bad start to the season and his struggles in the playoffs. Any package that the Raptors would get for Siakam would have less overall value, than if they were to wait to see if he improves throughout the season. Siakam developing into a first option seem unlikely, but it's not impossible. If he does, then that's when the Raptors could trade him.
At the end of the day, talent is talent. The Raptors don't necessarily attract many stars in free agency, so any talent upgrades are usually through trades or through the draft. That means it gets difficult when you have to replace a player of Siakam's caliber. Hopefully, for the team, Siakam will bounce back soon: his play right now is not befitting of his contract and the role that the Raptors gave him.