No one took as big of a leap during the 2018-19 campaign as Pascal Siakam in his third season in the league. He went from only starting in five games during the 2017-18 season, to becoming a regular starter while averaging 16.9 points and shooting 54.9 percent from the field. In one season, Siakam showed that he could become one of the best two-way players in the league, and it looks like he just scratched the surface of his potential.
In Game 1 of the NBA Finals Siakam was nearly unstoppable finishing with 31 points and securing the first of four wins for the eventual NBA champions. While it certainly wasn’t a one-man effort, Siakam showed flashes of being “the guy” in that game. Now that Kawhi Lenoard has moved on to the Clippers, Siakam is undoubtedly the guy and the Raptors‘ success will depend on his development as the centerpiece of this offense. Typically when the star player of a championship team leaves, it takes that franchise a while to regroup, but the Raptors had Siakam waiting in the wings and if Masai Ujiri’s comments at the Raptors’ media day are any indication, he wants to make sure Siakam stays in Toronto for a long time.
“Whether it’s going to be this fall or this summer, he’s definitely someone we’re going to keep here,” Ujiri said. “He’s going to have more on his shoulders this year, and I think he accepts that. He knows that there’s a responsibility and he’s up for the challenge. This season is a good season for him to actually grow as a player, and to potentially get to where we all feel he could get to which is one of the best players in the league.”
Last season, Siakam had the luxury of being the No. 2 option on the Raptors with Leonard attracting most of the attention from opposing defenses. Now that the cat’s out of the bag, and everyone got to witness Siakam on the biggest stage possible, he’ll draw tougher defenders to throw him off his game. Siakam has the versatility and length to adjust to any defender guarding him, but it will be interesting to see his development this season as the main option on offense.
As far as free agency goes, it’s not surprising at all that the Raptors will look to extend Siakam when he hits the restricted free agency market, because if they don’t someone surely will come in with an offer to secure his services.