In a blockbuster three-way trade, Pascal Siakam has been sent off to the Indiana Pacers, signalling that the front office is going into rebuild mode. In exchange for the two-time all-star, the Toronto Raptors have received Bruce Brown Jr., Jordan Nwora, Kira Lewis Jr.,  and three future first-round picks.

Fans had been murmuring about a potential trade for several months now with the Raptor’s lack of success, and the front office finally pulled the trigger on it. Unfortunately for fans, though, it looks as though the great white north may have gotten the short end of the stick.

Loss of Pascal Siakam

As Canadians, it’s hard to see Pascal Siakam go, especially as he was a key player in the Raptors finals run in 2021, but we can all agree the Raptors needed to shake things up.

Siakam, who has spent his entire NBA career with the Raptors so far, was averaging some pretty decent numbers with 22.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 4.9 assists, but it just wasn’t leading to wins. With a 15-25 record going into the new year, their chances of a playoff birth were slim to none.

Unfortunately, as of now, Siakam just isn’t a franchise player who you can build around – instead, he’s more like a strong piece on a contending team.

Don’t get us wrong; the Raptors are going to struggle in the short term with a consistent 20 ppg scorer leaving the roster with no real replacement. But in the long term, this is for the best for both the Raptors and Siakam himself.

Playing with the Indiana Pacers from here on will likely be great for Siakam, as he won’t be expected to be the number-one option on the court anymore.

New Player Acquisitions

In return for Pascal Siakam, the Raptors received not only draft picks but also Bruce Brown Jr., Kira Lewis Jr., and Jordan Nwora. The two young players haven’t necessarily shown any signs of becoming future superstars, but they could easily develop into strong role players on a contending team.

Jordan Nwora, in particular, could be a great player if given the opportunity, as his minutes have always been quite limited with the Pacers. While it’s unlikely he’ll develop into any sort of all-star as he is already 25, he could be a strong 17 ppg three-and-D type of guy.

On the other hand, Bruce Brown Jr. likely won’t grow past a 12-13 ppg scorer as the guy is already 27 years old and only averaging 12.1 points a night on 29 minutes.

Last and certainly least, the Raptors also got Kira Lewis Jr. a below-average player from New Orleans. Since he first stepped into the NBA in 2020, he really hasn’t grown as a player and has even regressed in a lot of ways.

The Raptors didn’t get fleeced by any means, but it’s hard to see Brown Lewis Jr. and Lewis Jr. really contributing to the team.

Overall, the player acquisitions don’t match up with the value Pascal Siakam brings to a team, but that’s why the Raptors also got their hands on several draft picks.

Future Draft Picks

If this trade only involved players, we would have to say the Raptors kind of got scammed by the Pacers and Pelicans. The Pelicans dropped a contract they didn’t want to get below the luxury tax, and the Pacers picked up Siakam at a fantastic price.

However, if the Raptors draft well, the three first-round picks they received could be decent. The only issue is that two of those picks are Pacer’s own first-rounders, and if things go Indiana’s way, they could be pretty low in the draft.

Nonetheless, with how the Raptor’s front office drafts, you can expect them to look for a long athletic guard or small forward to pair with Scottie Barnes.

Full Rebuild Mode

It’s evident the Toronto Raptors are going all in with Scottie Barnes, hopefully developing him into a franchise player to lead their future. To that end, the front office is likely going to swallow a couple of subpar years, missing the playoffs to hopefully develop Barnes into a real superstar.

At just 22 years old, Barnes has plenty of time to develop, giving the front office some breathing room and time to draft a strong supporting cast. And with their lower seed, they have a much higher chance of placing high in the draft lottery, potentially finding a great talent to pair with him.

Nonetheless, Toronto Raptors fans better grind their teeth for the next couple of years and learn to really “trust the process” because it doesn’t look like things are going to get better soon.

Season Outlook Going Forward

With a current record of 15-25, the Raptors were likely on their way to the play-in games for the playoffs, but even that might be a stretch now. Without Pascal Siakam to add some much-needed points, their offensive rating is certainly going to fall alongside their defensive rating.

They are, by no means, as bad as a team like the Detroit Pistons, but Raptors fans should get comfortable with seeing them at the bottom of the Eastern Conference for the next couple of years.

However, the next two seasons could be completely transformative for the Toronto Raptors if they can continue to develop Scottie Barnes and some of their other young talent.

Toronto’s philosophy of choosing long, athletic players may just pay off in the latter half of the 2020s.

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