);
Toronto Raptors

Who would you rather lead your team right now: Pascal Siakam or Jimmy Butler?

Following Tuesday's matchup, the Toronto Raptors and Miami Heat are now tied with the second-best record in the Eastern Conference.

Behind the play of their stars - Pascal Siakam and Jimmy Butler - both teams have gravely surpassed their expectations so far this season.

On one hand, you have the league's reigning Most Improved Player, who at 25-years-old, continues to get better every single time he takes the court. Averaging 25.1 points, 8.6 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game this season, Siakam has found his name entering the league's Most Valuable Player discussion in the opinions of many.

On the other hand, you have a former Most Improved Player, who at 30-years-old, has been an established star in the NBA for some time now. Averaging 19.0 points, a career-high 6.7 assists, 6.0 rebounds and 2.4 steals per game, Butler has shown no signs of slowing down in his first season with his new team.

While Siakam's age makes him the more attractive option long-term, who would you want to lead your NBA team in pursuit of an NBA title right now?

Our NBA.com Staff shared their opinions on the matter prior to Tuesday's game.

Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_): When we introduced the idea of this topic, I had originally stated that I was going with Jimmy Butler. But after a change of heart, I'm actually going to take Pascal Siakam.

I'm a huge Jimmy Butler fan. After seeing his demeanour in last year's playoffs, it completely changed my opinion on how far a team reliant on Butler could go. The things we saw him doing in the playoffs last year - his playmaking and elite perimeter defence - has carried over into this season and the Heat's record reflects that as well as his impressive averages in assists and steals per game. I truly think that Miami, behind Butler, will shock NBA fans this postseason.

But through almost a quarter of this season as the Raptors' go-to guy, I've seen enough to say that Siakam can legitimately lead a team to the NBA Finals and an NBA title.

Every time that I think Siakam has reached his peak, he takes his game to another level. He's evolved as a scorer and playmaker. He's taking over games without seemingly breaking a sweat. He's led this Toronto team that very few believed in in the preseason to one of the NBA's best records through nearly 20 games.

Siakam is a certified star in this league and he deserves to have his name entering the MVP conversation, as it is. Unlike Butler in the Heat, Siakam and the Raptors have no ceiling and that is because Siakam is still growing each and every game. That reason alone is enough to choose Siakam.

Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13): Jimmy Butler.

And I can't believe I still think that, but in my heart of hearts, I truly do.

Yes, Siakam is a borderline top-5 MVP candidate. Yes, Siakam has been the better player this season. Yes, Siakam has come up big in the NBA Finals.

And yet... I kind of still need to see him do it as THE MAN in a playoff series. It's one thing to turn up a few big postseason performances when the other team is honed in on Kawhi Leonard or to do it in the regular season.

It's another to do it when locking horns as the No. 1 option against the same team night in and night out.

Butler has done it.

He went toe-to-toe with Leonard in last year's playoffs. He's battled LeBron James on both ends while in Chicago. He's a guy that won't back down from any challenge on either end of the floor.

If you're asking me right now who I want over an 82-game regular season, the answer is Siakam.

If you're asking me right now who I want over a single playoff series, it's still Butler... for now.

Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21): Right now? To lead a team to win a title in the 2019-20 season, I'm going with Pascal Siakam.

I know that for the sake of the argument, we're looking at both through a more narrow lens, meaning the five-year age gap is thrown out of the window, essentially meaning this would be a five-month decision rather than a five-year plan.

That's exactly why I'm taking Siakam.

We're talking about a guy who, fresh off of breaking out to win Most Improved Player, is making a legitimate case for being the first-ever player to win it two years in a row. In his fifth season, he's added so much to his game, our Scott Rafferty broke down how Siakam has essentially become an entirely new player - again.

The rate at which Siakam improves is so rapid that it's almost unprecedented. He's doing things now that he wasn't doing a mere six months ago in the NBA Finals, seamlessly adjusting to being the team's No. 1 option.

And when he has subpar performances, he's even figured out how to have a short memory and bounce back right away.

That's a key characteristic to being The Man.

There's no telling what dynamics Siakam will add to his game by season's end and for that intriguing prospect, I'm taking him to lead my team to the promised land, a place he's been before, albeit with a different role.

Carlan Gay (@TheCarlanGay): I'll take Jimmy Butler here.

While Pascal Siakam is incredible and has earned the respect of the rest of the NBA, including us here at NBA.com, Butler to me would be the better option.

MORE: Who are the 30 best players in the NBA right now?

I've seen Butler be the go-to-guy before on multiple teams and in playoff situations. I have seen 19 games of Siakam doing it, that's not enough for me.

Like Gil said above, if this were a five-year plan where you can build out your team over time, Siakam is the pick. But seeing as we're talking about now in the moment - Butler is the guy.

Jimmy can defend, score and close games and he doesn't it with a vicious demeanour, which I think is critical if you want to win a title.

The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.

More from NBA.com

kawhi-leonard-121219-ftr-getty.jpg
Kawhi's return sets ratings record
Scott Rafferty
#celt76ers
Is 76ers/Celtics the NBA's best rivalry?
Carlan Gay
Kevin-Love-120719-ftr-getty.jpg
Which teams should trade for Love?
Scott Rafferty
anthony-ftr.jpg
What kind of impact has Melo had?
Kyle Irving
kawhi-leonard-121219-ftr-getty.jpg
Ring ceremony 'meant a lot' to Kawhi
Scott Rafferty
siakam-kawhi-121219-ftr-getty.jpg
Kawhi not surprised by Siakam's growth
Scott Rafferty
More News