Rookie Pascal Siakam was thrust into a starting role earlier than expected for the Toronto ..."/> Rookie Pascal Siakam was thrust into a starting role earlier than expected for the Toronto ..."/>

Pascal Siakam ready for breakout season with Toronto Raptors

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 18: Pascal Siakam
DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 18: Pascal Siakam /

Rookie Pascal Siakam was thrust into a starting role earlier than expected for the Toronto Raptors and the results were mixed. However, all signs point towards Siakam being ready to have a breakout season for the Toronto Raptors.

Pascal Siakam was one of two players selected by the Toronto Raptors in the first round of the 2016 NBA draft. Siakam was taken with the 27th pick while Jakob Poeltl was picked ninth overall by the Raps.

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Even though he was a bit of an after thought on draft day, Siakam out performed Poeltl during their rookie campaigns in Toronto and Siakam appears poised to take that next step in his career and become a more consistent contributor in the Raptors line up.

After a pre-season injury to Jared Sullinger who was the Raptors prized free agent pick up of Summer Sixteen, Siakam was thrust into the starting line up becoming only the fifth rookie in franchise history to start in their first career NBA game.

Siakam ended up playing in 55 games for the Raps during his rookie season which included 38 starts. He averaged 4.2 points along with 3.4 rebounds per game.

In contrast, Poeltl played in 54 games with only four starts during his rookie season in Toronto.

Despite some poor offensive performances for the big club in Toronto, Siakam was able to offensively dominate the competition during his time spent in the G League for Toronto’s minor-league affiliate Raptors 905.

Siakam was named MVP of the G League playoffs after leading Raptors 905 to the title while averaging 23 points and nine rebounds per game over the three-game series in the finals.

The native of Cameroon played two years of college ball at New Mexico State where he was named the Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year following a sophomore season that saw him average 20.4 points per game along with 11.8 rebounds.

Siakam has improved at an exponential rate every year going back to his senior year in high school in Texas through his freshman and sophomore years in college.

The 2016-17 season was an excellent learning opportunity for Siakam in Toronto and it will be interesting to see if he is able to continue his trend of vast improvement from year to year.

Prior to the 2016 NBA draft, I wrote about some concerns surrounding Siakam coming out of New Mexico State:

"Concerns: Almost all of his 20 points per game came from inside the paint. He’s still working to develop a mid-range jump shot which would make him a more diverse offensive threat in the NBA. Siakam could have used an extra year in college to really develop his game and perhaps could have worked his way much higher up the draft board. Yet at the same time, he’s already 22, which some might say is a little old for a serious NBA prospect. There’s also concern that his stats may not tell the entire story either, as the competition in the WAC is significantly softer than in the power conferences."

Some of those concerns rang true during his rookie season in the NBA.

Instead of an extra year in college, Siakam had to rush his development after being thrust into a starting role perhaps a little too early in his career.

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However, Siakam appears to have the mental toughness and the proper attitude it takes to have long term success in the NBA.

With a full season under his belt, expect the 2017-18 season to be a breakout season for Pascal Siakam of the Toronto Raptors.