Toronto Raptors

Raptors' Pascal Siakam shows little rust in season debut

He's baaaaaaack!

After missing the first 10 games of the season to complete his recovery from undergoing shoulder surgery in the offseason, Pascal Siakam made his season debut in Toronto's loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday.

In 25 minutes of action, Siakam finished with 15 points, four rebounds, two blocks, one steal and one assist. He shot 5-for-12 from the field, 1-for-3 from 3-point range and 3-for-4 from the free throw line.

The Raptors weren't able to overcome big performances from Kevin Durant (31 points) and James Harden (28), but it was an encouraging debut for Siakam.

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How Pascal Siakam looked in his season debut

Pregame

One of the questions ahead of Siakam's debut was how his return would impact the starting lineup.

Against the Nets, Raptors head coach Nick Nurse decided to go small by starting Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr., OG Anunoby, Scottie Barnes and Siakam.

First quarter

Siakam's first bucket of the season? A catch-and-shoot 3 from the top of the perimeter, courtesy of VanVleet.

The make is one thing, the confidence is another.

Siakam's improvement as a 3-point shooter helped him make the leap into stardom in 2019-20, but he struggled from the perimeter last season. According to NBA.com, he went 18-for-59 (30.5 percent) from the corners and 55-for-186 from above the break (29.6 percent). Him taking that shot without any hesitation is a promising sign for the Raptors.

That turned out to be Siakam's only field goal attempt of the quarter, as he took a seat on the bench with 6:59 remaining in the period after picking up two fouls, the second of which - a reach-in on a Durant post-up - wasn't particularly smart.

We did get a taste of Toronto's defensive versatility before Siakam left the game. VanVleet and Trent have some limitations because of their size, but Siakam, Anunoby and Barnes make for an incredibly switchy and disruptive trio.

Second quarter

The Raptors entered Sunday's game averaging a league-best 11.1 steals per game to go along with a league-best 21.6 deflections per game.

With his long arms and defensive IQ, Siakam should add to those totals.

Siakam didn't pick up another foul in the period but still checked out of the game with 6:54 remaining, the Raptors likely looking to limit his minutes.

Siakam went into halftime with seven points on 3-for-5 shooting from the field, his other bucket coming off of a smooth drive on Paul Millsap. He also grabbed three rebounds and came away with one steal through two quarters.

All in all, Siakam didn't look like someone who has spent the last five months rehabbing an injury.

Third quarter

Siakam's first basket of the second half was a good example of what he brings to this team.

After drawing Blake Griffin out on a switch, Siakam got into the paint, forced the Nets to collapse and kicked the ball out to Anunoby in the corner. Anunoby then moved the ball along to Trent, who put the ball on the floor and found Siakam underneath the basket for a dump-off pass, leading to a dunk.

This is your reminder that Siakam (13.8) ranked second to only VanVleet (14.8) for most drives per game on the Raptors last season.

Siakam scored his 10th point of the game from the free throw line after drawing a shooting foul on Harden in transition, another area he should give this team a boost.

Once again, Siakam checked out around the halfway point (5:31) of the period.

Fourth quarter

Siakam showed a little bit of rust at the start of the fourth quarter, missing his first two field goal attempts, both of which came in the paint, but he still made some things happen.

In addition to rotating over and coming up with a block on LaMarcus Aldridge at the rim, Siakam helped keep a possession alive by tipping the ball out, Tyson Chandler style.

Siakam scored his first points of the period with 5:59 to go, draining a pair of free throws following a shooting foul on Patty Mills out of a pick-and-roll. It was the start of a nice little stretch from him, in which he got an and-one on Harden and set VanVleet up for a 3-pointer, giving him his first assist of the game.

It wasn't until there was 3:33 remaining that Nurse took Siakam out of the game for good.

What they're saying about Pascal Siakam's season debut

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