It was an apparently calm, confident and mature Pascal Siakam who finally made it to Toronto to meet the local media after resolving some visa issues. The Raptors surprise first round draft pick fits the mold of what president and general manager Masai Ujiri wants and Siakam is the kind of young high energy big man that could make everyone in Toronto stop missing Bismack Biyombo.
Pascal Siakam wasn’t on anyone’s radar for the first round of the 2016 NBA Draft, anyone that is except Ujiri who thought the 22-year-old big man from Cameroon was good enough to take with the 27th overall pick. Defense, rebounding and a non-stop motor go a long ways in Toronto these days.
“I think from the start it’s my motor,” Siakam responded to Pro Bball Report at the media availability. “That’s something you can’t change and I feel like I have that off the bat. The fact that I can come in and bring energy to the team no matter what my skill level, if I have that, that’s an NBA ready skill. Also rebounding the basketball. I will be a relentless rebounder and I will go for every rebound, that’s a skill. Being able to defend multiple positions, that’s a skill especially with the way the league is going. I feel that that is really going to be big time for me the fact that I can switch on guards and be able to keep them in front of me, that’s a skill. (Those are) things right off the bat that are NBA ready. You can go through a lot of development during your career. The offense and everything is going to come along, but those skills alone can help me out right now.”
Look out 9th pick Jacob Poeltl, Lucas Nogueira and Jared Sullinger, this kid is gunning for your minutes by out working you on defense.
Of course Siakam also has a bit of an offensive game that he gave everyone a taste of in half a game at NBA Summer League. This kid can run the fast break like a world class sprinter and has has the hands and the touch to finish at the rim. He finished on 73.3 percent of his shots at the rim as a senior in college. Not known for having a jump shot, he wasn’t terrible at the mid range game either, finishing 43.8 percent of his two-point shots away from the rim. This kid can score and the native of Cameroon averaged 20.2 points last year.
“I think there is a lot more (to my offensive game),” Siakam said. “I did show a little glimpse of what I could do (at Summer League) on the basketball court. I feel like my shot is really good. It is going to take a lot of repetition because of the way I played before I didn’t really have to shoot a lot of jumpers, but I have a good shot. My form is good. I can attack the basket and finish at the rim. There is a lot more to see from me.”
It’s hard to imagine Biyombo ever having the offensive potential of Siakam.
Just to put things in perspective, Biyombo and Siakam were both measured at 6’9.5 in shoes. Biyombo beating Siakam’s broad 7’3 wingspan by 3″ and Siakam looking to have the superior hops with a maximum 36″ vertical. Biyombo skipped that measurement and despite being quick off the floor defensively, he takes forever to get above the rim on offense. Biyombo is 18 months older and about 15 lbs heavier than Siakam and it will be interesting to see how Siakam adjusts to playing stronger players at the NBA level.
However, Siakam has the potential to become that hard-hat fan favorite Torontoians love to see play.
“The first thing (people) have to know is I’m a good person,” Siakam said. “I was raised well by amazing parents. Concerning basketball, (I am) a guy that is going to come in and give everything he has for the city, for his organization, for his teammates, for his fans. (I am) a guy who is ready to go to work.”
It was hard work and defensive energy that got last year’s second round draft pick Norman Powell minutes in head coach Dwane Casey’s rotation last season. Siakam could be the surprise player on the Raptors for the same reasons this coming year.
Siakam finished the media availability by unexpectedly shaking the hand of every person in the room. Now that’s how you impress the media in your new city.