Toronto rookie forward Pascal Siakam has probably maxed out his potential climb up the NBA Rookie Ladder at fourth from the top, but for a player that wasn’t even supposed to be in the Raptors rotation, that’s pretty impressive.
4. Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors
Last week: No. 5
The No. 6 rookie on Dec. 14 hasn’t surged up two places so much as remain upright while others wilted amid the intense Ladder spotlight. Siakam did put himself in position to climb, though, while second in field goal percentage, second in blocks, sixth in rebounding and 12th in Defensive Rating. This is probably his ceiling, barring either a big jump in production or a big fall or serious injury from Embiid, Brogdon and Saric in the top three.
Siakam has started every game at power forward for the Raptors so far this season pending the return of Jared Sullinger from injury and he’s averaged 4.9 points on 51 percent shooting, 3.6 rebounds, half a steal and 0.9 blocks in 18.5 minutes. While his play is full of rookie mistakes, he puts pressure on defenses in transition with his speed and plays with high energy on defense.
However, it was only by chance that Siakam could still catch the eye of Scott Howard-Cooper for the current rookie rankings. Six games ago Raptors head coach Dwane Casey was pulling Siakam early and starting Patrick Patterson in the second half and for three games in a row Siakam was averaging 0 points and 1 rebound in 5.3 minutes. Then Patterson sprained his knee and Siakam got 27.8 minutes in his last three games and bumped those averages to 3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 0.7 steals and 1.7 blocks.
While Siakam isn’t the player the Raptors were hoping would be starting every game in the first half of the season and the team is rumored to be looking for a more veteran power forward to start in his place, the rookie is belying his selection at the back end of the first round in the draft and outperforming nearly everyone chosen ahead of him.