Pascal Siakam isn’t a superstar, but his wide skill-set and infectious energy have helped the Toronto Raptors be one of the NBA’s best teams this season.
Kawhi Leonard may be the do-it-all forward holding down headlines for the Toronto Raptors. But the energy and burgeoning versatility of Pascal Siakam have been just as important to Toronto’s strong start. Siakam’s undeniable energy is the first thing that stands, or rather leaps, out when watching him. This is nothing new, as Siakam has been hustling his entire NBA career, but it certainly is a bonus for the Raptors.
What is new is Siakam being able to do, well, everything. He can score inside, and is shooting 57.6 percent from the field this season. His outside shot has come along too — Siakam is shooting a career-best 34.4 percent from 3-point range. Those scoring talents have resulted in a huge year-to-year jump, from 7.3 to 15.0 points per game.
Siakam’s skills don’t end there. He’s a capable passer on top of everything else, who is averaging a career-best 2.8 assists per game against 1.8 turnovers. The Raptors were always going to be good with Leonard and Kyle Lowry around, but it’s the presence of complementary players like Siakam that makes Toronto great.
The team’s plus-minus numbers confirm his positive impact. With Siakam on the floor, the Raptors outscore opponents by 9.7 points per 100 possessions, the fourth-best mark among Toronto’s role players. When Siakam sits, Toronto actually gets beat by 3.6 points per 100 possessions.
That’s a larger total impact than Leonard has had on the Raptors’ plus-minus. Obviously, Siakam isn’t better than Leonard, a legitimate superstar, but the numbers do a good job of showing how beneficial his minutes have been. Siakam is more than just a passive presence. He tied Leonard for the scoring lead in the Raptors’ recent win over the Milwaukee Bucks, pouring in 30 points, 4rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks in 38 minutes.
The occasional 30-burger definitely helps, but even without that bulk scoring Pascal Siakam has helped the Toronto Raptors by doing whatever they ask of him. The next test is to see if he can help them overcome some postseason demons when the regular season is said and done.
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