Through almost no fault of his own, Toronto Raptors star Pascal Siakam has become one of the more polarizing players in the NBA. While some fans value his contributions on both ends of the floor, some may be left wanting more from a player that is currently on a max contract.
The hate towards Siakam has been puzzling considering what a heartwarming and inspirational story he has. Having only picked up basketball at the age of 15, Siakam grew from an afterthought at tiny New Mexico State into an NBA champion and one of the best power forwards in the game.
Siakam was given his proper adulation when he was a guest on the “Old Man and the Three” podcast hosted by the recently retired JJ Redick. Considering how Siakam came into the league, Redick was stunned that he’s been able to care out such a productive career for himself.
“Your arc in your rookie contract is insane,” Redick said. “You talk about someone who played basically half his rookie season in the G League, was an 18-20 minute guy coming off the bench his second year. Third year, most improved player on a championship level team, fourth year, Second-Team All-NBA, All-Star starter. That ascension is crazy.”
JJ Redick praised Raptors star Pascal Siakam.
Siakam touched on several subjects in this interview with Redick, especially when it came time to discuss playing alongside Kawhi Leonard. While he acknowledges how good of a player Leonard is, he also made sure to note that games like Fred VanVleet’s Milwaukee masterclass and his own Finals performance show that this was a deep, unified team.
Siakam told a humorous story about his pre-draft workout in Toronto, as he was matched up against the “Z team” during his drills while Jakob Poeltl and Skal Labissiere went head-to-head. As fate would have it, Siakam would go on to have the best career out of those three players.
Siakam gave Redick a look at what playing in Tampa last year was like. With a minimal number of Raptors fans in Florida, Siakam said it was difficult playing down there because “random basketball fans” who supported an assortment of non-Toronto teams would show up. No wonder this team got booed at points last year.
Between Siakam linking up with JJ Redick and VanVleet appearing on All The Smoke in November, it’s nice that some more general NBA fans are getting a glimpse at the players Raptors fans get to see every day.