I am an avid Kyle Lowry hater due to the fact that year after year he disappoints when it matters. I don’t think Kawhi Leonard will stay in Toronto, but that doesn’t mean they are without a star.
Pascal Siakam should be the front runner for Most Improved Player. This guy is a straight baller. I knew very little about him when he was drafted back in 2016, but man, has he taken huge leaps.
Siakam has always had the energy and hustle, but his offense is what needed work. This season he was second in scoring behind Leonard on the 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Here are Siakam’s stats compared from last and this year (credit to Fansided):
2017-18 stats: 7.3 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 2.0 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.5 BPG, 20.7 MPG, 50.8% FG%
2018-19 stats: 16.9 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 3.1 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.7 BPG, 32.0 MPG, 54.6 FG%
Playing with two other stars per se gives him an edge over D’Angelo Russell for MIP since Russell would be considered the number 1 option with the Brooklyn Nets. As the season went on, it seemed that Siakam was setting a career-high more than often.
Siakam is the one piece of stability on the Raptors. He has consistently been a workhorse for them and improved his game enough to change his role on the team. That is the teammate you want to have. Siakam even developed the nickname “Spicy” in the locker room.
Raptors head coach Nick Nurse praised Siakam by saying, “He’s going to burst out of there with all the speed he’s got in the world, which is what we want.”
Slam interviewed Siakam who said, “I think one problem I struggled with was feeling like I belonged. I was hesitant doing things and I think when you put the work in and you see the results it’s hard not to believe in that. [It’s hard] not to have confidence. I’m really confident in my work and just like that, everything I do, I know it’s going to pay off.”
“I think by the end of it, I just always want kids from Africa to believe in themselves and know that it’s possible,” he says. “That a kid like me can come up here and play at this level and be in this beautiful city and play for this beautiful organization and just that they can also do it. That’s what I want kids from Africa to believe in.”
Siakam appears to be an extremely humble and dedicated young man, it is no wonder that he has come so far. He will continue to develop in this league and garner more spotlight. He was already an underrated candidate to be an All-Star, maybe over Lowry.
Overall, Siakam is a joy to watch. I believe if Leonard were to stay it would be to pair himself with Siakam more so than Lowry who is sneakily 33 or even Marc Gasol who is 34. Siakam averages more points, rebounds, and blocks than Lowry already and shoots much better from the field. Not to mention, his lockdown defense is suffocating.