Raptors Report Card: Lowry, Siakam receive top grades

Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam (43) and guard Kyle Lowry (7) celebrate during a break in play. (Frank Gunn/CP)

The 2019-20 NBA season is on pause at the moment with no clear idea when, or even if, it will resume.

For the Toronto Raptors, the idea of a cancelled season is particularly disheartening because of how the club’s title defence had been going, surprising just about everyone as a legitimate-looking championship contender once again as a team with the third-best record in the NBA before the season was postponed.

But as tough a pill as this hiatus has been to swallow, it does provide an opportunity to look back and assess the team individually.

Here’s a grade for each Raptors player (and one coach) as we all continue to anxiously await news of the 2019-20 campaign’s resumption or cancellation.

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OG Anunoby

Season Stats: 10.7 PPG | 5.4 RPG | 50.7 FG% | 38.1 3P%
Grade: B

(Photo credit: Mary Altaffer/AP)

Anunoby has had games this season where he’s looked like he’s a future all-star, and games where you’ve questioned if he should be in the rotation – let alone starting.

The result of this inconsistent play has been an average-looking season on paper that doesn’t tell the whole story.

It’s important to remember that Anunoby’s best attribute is as a defender, something that’s difficult to quantify, but impossible to miss when he’s locked in such as in those two games at the end of February and beginning of March against the Charlotte Hornets and Denver Nuggets when he recorded six and seven steals, respectively, leading to two of his best offensive contests of the season.

There’s brilliance to be found in Anunoby’s play, but he’s been held back by not being able to put it together on a nightly basis.

Chris Boucher

Season Stats: 6.3 PPG | 4.4 RPG | 1.0 BPG | 45.8 FG%
Grade: B

(Photo credit: Hans Deryk/CP)

A pleasant surprise for the Raptors, Boucher has made the most of the opportunities given to him with both Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol missing time this season, turning himself from an emergency back-up centre into a solid rotation piece.

Boucher’s greatest asset is as an energy guy who can rim run with the best of them and block shots (usually as a weak-side defender). He still has a lot he needs to work on in other aspects of the game, but for someone who wasn’t expected to do much coming into the season, he’s performed very admirably this season.

Terence Davis

Season Stats: 7.7 PPG | 3.4 RPG | 46.3 FG% | 39.6 3P%
Grade: B+

(Photo credit: Frank Gunn/CP)

A very pleasant surprise for the Raptors, Davis is the latest undrafted rookie success story for the team.

He’s taken every challenge in front of him and has managed to overcome it so far. While it’s true he was struggling before the season was postponed, chalk that up to the rookie wall as he’s the only Raptors player to get into every game this season, already nearly doubling the amount of games he played as a college senior last year.

Maybe this break will do him some good and he’ll get back on track when/if the season resumes. That shooting percentage from three-point range seems undeniable, after all.

Marc Gasol

Season Stats: 7.6 PPG | 6.3 RPG | 3.4 APG | 40.2 3P%
Grade: C+

(Photo credit: Matthew Hinton/AP)

This grade may seem harsh, particularly with Gasol missing more than half the season due to injury, but he’s receiving this pedestrian mark partially because of all that time missed. Attendance matters, after all.

This isn’t to say Gasol meant to miss all these games – no one wants to be injured – but it happened, meaning his contributions to the team – something the club was relying on coming into the season – has been dramatically lessened.

This, compounded by the fact Gasol was in the midst of his worst offensive season ever, has led to a year that’s left everyone wanting so much more from the big Spaniard.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

Season Stats: 7.2 PPG | 4.9 RPG | 2.0 ORPG | 47.1 FG%
Grade: B-

(Photo credit: Frank Gunn/CP)

After a disastrous start to the season that saw Hollis-Jefferson sitting in Nick Nurse’s doghouse for defensive irresponsibility, he turned things around and has turned into a reliable energy rotation player.

Hollis-Jefferson isn’t going to score a lot, but he will crash the glass hard – especially on the offensive end – and play with max effort. That’s turned a tepid-looking off-season signing into a valuable addition after signing a one-year $2.5-million deal.

Serge Ibaka

Season Stats: 16.0 PPG | 8.3 RPG | 51.8 FG% | 39.8 3P%
Grade: A+

(Photo credit: Frank Gunn/CP)

To put it simply, Ibaka has been awesome this season.

Averaging career highs in scoring and three-point shooting percentage, Ibaka has risen his offensive game to whole new heights while remaining one of the league’s top rim protectors (even if the block numbers don’t necessarily reflect this).

Ibaka’s strong play has been aided by the fact Gasol has missed a lot of time, giving him clarity in his role as the team’s starting centre, something he’s taken advantage of.

But this perfect grade for Ibaka isn’t just for his strong play on the court, extra-curriculars count, too, and on that front, Ibaka has been a bona fide superstar thanks to videos like his “Avec Classe” series and his fantastic “How Bored Are You?” series he’s been doing during the season hiatus.

Both on and off the court, Ibaka’s been one of the team MVPs.

Kyle Lowry

Season Stats: 19.7 PPG | 7.7 APG | 41.7 FG% | 35.4 3P%
Grade: A

(Photo credit: Jeff Chiu/AP)

After a couple seasons that saw him take a backseat on his own scoring, Lowry is back to putting up nearly 20 a night again while still featuring among the league leaders in assists.

But as we all know, Lowry’s value can’t be measured just by numbers.

In that sense, Lowry still remains the heart and soul of the Raptors and, by proxy, the team’s best player. The Raptors still go as Lowry goes, and with no sign of him slowing down – even after just turning 34 – there should be no fear that extension he signed won’t be worth it.

Patrick McCaw

Season Stats: 4.6 PPG | 1.1 SPG | 41.1 FG% | 32.4 3P%
Grade: D

(Photo credit: Frank Gunn/CP)

We’ll keep this one brief. While Nurse may love McCaw and sees something big enough in him to give him seemingly unlimited chances and consistent playing time, he hasn’t done nearly enough to justify it all from our perspective.

Nick Nurse

Grade: A+

(Photo credit: Kathy Willens/AP)

His infatuation with McCaw aside, Nurse has been spectacular this season and was looking like a frontrunner for Coach of the Year before the season was suspended.

What Nurse has done is nothing short of miraculous. He navigated the rough waters of near-endless injuries to key players and boosted up guys who normally wouldn’t get a shot at the rotation consistently to lead the Raptors to a 46-18 record with a playoff spot already clinched.

Norman Powell

Season Stats: 16.4 PPG | 3.7 RPG | 50.2 FG% | 39.8 3P%
Grade: A-

(Photo credit: Rich Pedroncelli/AP)

This season has been Powell’s best by quite a significant margin with the 26-year-old averaging career highs in nearly every major statistical category.

The player who only flashed glimpses of his true ability from time-to-time finally found consistency.

Unfortunately, Powell also got hit by the injury bug and has been forced to be sidelined on three separate occasions this season because of it. That includes that fateful final game against the Utah Jazz before the season paused, when he left that contest with an ankle sprain.

If Powell were able to stay healthier this season, this grade would’ve been higher as there’s been little denying his steady, strong play

Pascal Siakam

Season Stats: 23.6 PPG | 7.5 RPG | 45.9 FG% | 35.9 3P%
Grade: A

(Photo credit: Frank Gunn/CP)

Siakam was asked to be team’s No. 1 scoring option this season and while it’s come with some growing pains, he’s managed to make it work enough to see him lead the Raptors in scoring and get named an all-star starter.

Of all the Raptors, however, the possibility of a cancelled season could dramatically impact Siakam on a couple of fronts.

For one, Siakam is still growing into his role as the Raptors’ lead offensive option and should the season get cancelled, that would mean no playoffs and no opportunity for Siakam to further develop into a go-to scorer as the stakes increase and the defences start to tighten up.

The other factor at play for Siakam with a cancelled season is his forthcoming extension.

The 26-year-old is in line for a four-year, $130-million max contract extension that will kick in next season. Depending on the salary cap for next season, however, Siakam could stand to lose a lot of money if the new cap figure is lower than originally expected because of the loss of revenue from the COVID-19 suspension.

Additionally, there’s also the problem to be sorted out with the escalators built within Siakam’s contract. At the moment, his current max deal is worth 25 per cent of the cap, but should he make the All-NBA Second or First Team or win MVP, his deal turns into one worth 28, 29 or 30 per cent of the cap, respectively.

That is why there’s more at stake for Siakam regarding the fate of the end-of-season awards than just pride.

Fred VanVleet

Season Stats: 17.6 PPG | 6.6 APG | 40.9 FG% | 38.8 3P%
Grade: A-

(Photo credit: Frank Gunn/CP)

Like Lowry, VanVleet has been a rock for the Raptors this season – when he’s able to play.

VanVleet has been forced to miss time due to injury three times this season. Whether it’s fair or not, this affected his grade here, because otherwise it would’ve been much higher as the numbers VanVleet were putting up were borderline all-star level.

Oshae Brissett, Dewan Hernandez, Stanley Johnson, Macolm Miller, Matt Thomas, Paul Watson

Grade: N/A

There isn’t much to say about these six players. They simply haven’t played enough this season to make a fair assessment of any of them.

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