Why did the Toronto Raptors select Pascal Siakam out of New Mexico State University with the 27th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft?
That’s the question I asked myself that night? Siakam who? As I watched the draft unfold, I saw one guys name continue to slip down the draft board. That mans name, Skal Labissiere. The 27th pick arrived and he was still available. Leading up to the draft Labissiere was raw but was seen as someone with tremendous upside. In mock drafts, he was a sure fire lottery pick. Sometimes even projected to be taken in the top ten.
So as Adam Silver came to the podium and announced the Raptors had a selected a different raw power forward, I looked at my friend and asked why?
The answer is now very clear. Trust Masai Ujiri.
Pascal Siakam has developed into one of the most effective scorers at his position in the entirety of the NBA and helped Toronto secure their first championship in franchise history. Last season Siakam put up, 16.9/6.9/3.1 on 55 per cent shooting on route to him winning the Most Improved Player award.
But the most impressive part of Siakam’s growth is the addition of a three point shot. He went from shooting 22 per cent on 132 attempts from behind the arc in 2017/18 to making 37 per cent of his 214 three point attempts in 2018/19.
Meanwhile, Labissiere averaged three points per game last year in 22 appearances between the Sacramento Kings and Portland Trail Blazers. His best season was back in 2017/18 when he played 60 games with the Kings and averaged 8.7 points per game on 45 per cent shooting.
So yes, Masai was right. What else is new.
The Next Step
Siakam has the opportunity this season to become the focal point of an NBA offence. With Kawhi Leonard departing to Los Angeles, that opens up a lot of points to be replaced. In fact, without Leonard on the floor, Siakam controlled the game and the Raptors offence ran through him.
Siakam uses his length tremendously. When attacking the paint he always seems to make the defender look overmatched, no matter their size. If he can’t beat them with his length he’ll use his outstanding ball handling skills and footwork to turn it into an easy layup.
If Siakam continues to develop at the rate at which he did last season there is no reason to believe he can’t lead the Raptors in scoring this season. Siakam averaging 22 points a game this season isn’t a stretch. If the Raptors can continue to properly space the floor and Siakam continues to make threes at the rate he did last year he will be the star of this team.
Not only will he be the Raptors star, but he’ll also be an All-Star. Look for Pascal Siakam to make his first All-Star appearance in the 2019/20 season.