Title: Nobody saw Pascal Siakam’s unlikely rise to All-Star starter coming — except him
Date: January 23, 2020
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about Pascal Siakam being named an NBA All-Star starter, the latest checkpoint in the league’s unlikeliest development story.
NEW YORK — Anyone who told you they saw this coming is engaging in revisionist history. Or you’re having a conversation with Pascal Siakam.
When the Toronto Raptors selected Siakam at No. 27 in the 2016 draft, the belief was that he could develop into a starting-calibre player in time. The player comparison former head coach Dwane Casey was fond of applying to his rookie was Bo Outlaw, a tremendously impactful defender by defensive box plus-minus and other advanced metrics … who never once averaged double-digit points in a season. Even those modest targets were questioned; some saw Siakam as a minor reach late in the first round and a Player Impact Plus-Minus (PIPM) based draft projection model from The Stepien gave him under a 10-percent chance of peaking at starter quality.
Maybe everyone just forgot to add “All-Star” before the word starter.
That – an All-Star starter – is what Siakam became Thursday, with the NBA announcing on their marquee TNT pregame broadcast that he has been voted in as an Eastern Conference starting forward. Nobody was thinking this big back in 2016 — except Siakam himself.