Every mediocre investor knows that in order to make money on the stock market, you should aim to buy low, and sell high. Unfortunately, sports fans don’t always carry the same demeanor.
If Pascal Siakam were a stock right now, he would be trading for pennies. His performance all throughout the NBA bubble, and especially in the Toronto Raptors’ second round series was inexcusable. His team didn’t need him to play well – they merely needed him to be a positive contributor on the offensive side of the ball – and he was unable to deliver. He deserves to be called out for his poor play, and there’s no need to cradle the 26-year-old All-Star like a sensitive child. Pascal Siakam did not play well, and a large share of the responsibility for the Raptors losing is on him.
With that out of the way, Pascal Siakam is still one of the most intriguing young stars in the NBA. He’s worth every dollar of his maximum contract extension that he signed last summer. While there was no intrinsic benefit to the Raptors locking him up a year in advance, he certainly would have received an identical contract this summer if he had hit restricted free agency. He will still be an All-Star next year, and the year after, and for many years to come after that.
Though Pascal’s story has been discussed umpteen times by every sports media outlet simply because of how unheralded it is for a guy like Siakam to be in the position he’s in, it clearly needs to be brought into the spotlight once again.
Beyond the tenacity that it took for Pascal to keep playing at New Mexico State after his father – and his biggest motivator to play in the NBA – tragically passed away in a car accident, Siakam’s ascension as a basketball player is unmatched. He’s arguably improved at a rate quicker than any other NBA player ever has before.
Having only picked up a basketball for the first time at the age of 16, it’s unfathomable that Siakam has come so far in such a short span of time – and it’s encouraging that he’ll only continue to develop further. When ex-NBA forward, Luc Mbah A Moute, scouted Siakam at a Giants of Africa summer camp while Pascal was a teenager, Mbah A Moute highlighted that it was Pascal’s spunk and love for the game which separated him from the competition. Though Pascal had no real basketball skill at the time, he was an athletic freak of nature with his size, length, and ability to run the floor.
While Siakam has developed by leaps and bounds since that time to become the 22.9 points per game scorer that he is now, his offense is far from polished. He still relies heavily on a limited number of moves in his arsenal, combined with his sheer length and explosiveness to score the bulk of his points. When he finds out how to be more efficient out of the post, tighten up his handle to penetrate the defense, and improve his ability to shoot off the bounce, he’s going to be a matchup nightmare.
Nick Nurse echoed the same tones in a press conference earlier in the season, telling reporters that Pascal is still “18 months away from being really deadly out there.”
Siakam is a guy who was playing in the G-League four years ago. He was coming off the Raptors bench and averaging 7.3 points as a rim-runner just a year later. Last year, he deservedly took home Most Improved Player of the Year honours, after posting 16.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game on 54.9% shooting and 36.9% from behind the arc. This season, he enjoyed another breakout year, becoming one of two All-Stars on the Raptors, and co-leading them to the second best record in the league.
Ultimately, it’s not Pascal’s fault that he is living in the shadows Kawhi Leonard casted over Toronto. Nobody should have expected Siakam to be at Kawhi’s level – even when he gave us some hope in the regular season that he might be approaching superstardom. Everybody needs to appreciate Siakam for what he is: a heck of a player, one of the hottest young commodities in the NBA, and a guy who is bound to be a superstar in the near future.
The most encouraging aspect through it all is that this postseason was just a display of some growing pains. Every young star has them.
Pascal is not afraid of the playoff spotlight that former iterations of Raptors teams may have been. He scored 32 points on a blistering 14-17 shooting against the two-time Defensive Player of the Year, Draymond Green, last year in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. The only difference was that this year, Siakam had all of the defensive attention keyed in on him instead of Kawhi, making it harder for Pascal to get the shots he wanted. The reason for that was because even opposing teams like the Boston Celtics understand how talented Siakam is, and they need to throw everything at him including the kitchen sink to stop him.
All in all, there is no avoiding the fact that Siakam played an abysmal series against the Celtics. He was frustrating to watch offensively, he couldn’t get his shot falling for the life of him, and he even had the worst three-point shooting percentage in a series by a single player in NBA history, among those with at least thirty attempts.
But, he’s young. He’s a Raptor for the next four years at minimum. He’s going to be an elite superstar soon, and Toronto is lucky to have him.
So back to the theory on how to make money: with how Siakam is being talked about in the news right now, his stock has hit the floor. That means instead of selling out on him, you should buy his stock; you should invest in him; you should believe in him. Don’t give up on Pascal Siakam yet. He’s going to be great.