Predicting the Toronto Raptors Leading Scorers
After seeing the Toronto Raptors best player, Kawhi Leonard, escape to Los Angeles, the team has a few noticeable gaps to fill. The biggest being the offensive load.
Without having the elite scoring of Kawhi, the team will most certainly take on a more free-flowing and shared offensive system. There won’t be as much isolation, post-ups or even crazy dominant scoring nights.
Although the scoring will be distributed a lot more evenly than last year, they still need someone to refill that role of top dog. Someone who can take the responsibility of guiding the ship when it comes to scoring.
So, who might those players be?
Siakam is the obvious choice for the guy who can lead the team in points per game.
After his increased performance led to an improved role, he excelled much more than anyone had expected. Because of that, he'll surely be able to rise up the ranks yet again. If last year’s offseason was any indication as to how determined Siakam is, he’ll be poised for another step in the right direction.
That improvement, along with his increased role, will be the perfect combo for his success. With Kawhi out, he’ll get more touches than last year and, Nick Nurse is going to run more plays through/for him. He'll be playing with some great playmakers in Kyle Lowry and Marc Gasol so he'll be getting incredible looks over and over again.
Last year, Siakam averaged just under 17 points per game. That number can undoubtedly jump up to the 22-25 range. All-Star weekend, get ready for Spicy P.
2. Kyle Lowry
Lowry isn’t exactly known for his elite scoring ability. Frankly, he's seen more like an extreme effort player with impressive playmaking and tough defence.
But, that doesn’t mean he can’t put the ball in the hoop. In fact, he’s put up more than 15 points per game in five different seasons.
Just like with Siakam, Lowry’s role in the offence is going to be expanded dramatically compared to last year. As the number one ball-handler, he’s going to have control of the offence more often than not. That, paired with his high basketball IQ, equals finding holes in defences to get some open shots easier.
Lowry’s almost a career 37-percent three-point shooter and, he’ll be asked to take more than he has.
Last year, he was just over 14 points per game and, this year will likely see that total go up by two or three.
3. Serge Ibaka
After the addition of Gasol at the trade deadline, Ibaka’s role was diminished significantly. That’s not to say he didn’t play a big role but, he was playing fewer minutes and getting fewer touches.
That's definitely going to continue into this season. Ibaka will still get a solid dose of minutes, and when out there he’ll be playing against other teams weaker unit regularly. He’s also going to start a few games here and there. Maybe they’re playing a small ball type team or, perhaps Gasol needs a day off.
Last year, he averaged 15 points on the dot and, I think it should stay around the same this season.
Putting VanVleet at number four on this list instead of three might look bad in a few months.
He’s coming into his fourth season in the league and, has never looked better than the last 24 minutes in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.
Frankly, there might not be a player on the Raptors who has more to gain from a good season than FVV. He’ll be entering an offseason that can get him a boatload of money, and a starting role if teams feel he can meet their needs. When on the floor, he’ll be looking to get shots up and show front offices around the league what he can do as a primary guy.
Besides that, VanVleet will be behind an old-ish Lowry who’s going to play a relatively light minute load and, will inevitably take games off throughout the year. He'll get plenty of run as a primary ball-handler while also getting some minutes as an off-ball guy when on the floor with Lowry.
Nick Nurse and the Raptors are additionally going to want to get a look at VanVleet in a bigger role to see if he can take over Lowry’s spot when the time comes.
VanVleet averaged 11 points per game last year but, it should be closer to 15 this year.
Powell can easily have a sneaky good season. With Danny Green gone, Norm is going to get starting minutes early on in the year. Because of the Raptors weak guard rotation after Lowry and VanVleet, there’s lots of room for Powell to flourish.
As a starter, he’ll be the fourth offensive option (Siakam, Lowry, Gasol ahead of him) which will leave plenty of room for him to operate off-ball. He’ll also be playing with some high IQ playmakers in Lowry and Gasol who will be able to get him the ball in many different favourable situations. If Nurse is the coach all Raptors fans think he is he’ll be able to develop a system that gets Powell involved and excelling.
Powell put up 8.6 points per game last season and an uptick to about 10 or 11 sounds about right.