There are plenty of good players who get drafted with high hopes, and never get close to reaching their potential, Pascal Siakam looks like he will not fall victim to that, after being grabbed at 27th in 2016. If you watch Siakam on the court – he has a lot of his game that imitates Carmelo Anthony – the hard ball fakes, the nasty turnaround jumpers, his sudden bursts into the lane with silky smooth finishes, but he’s more athletic, and slightly bigger at 6-9 and 235lbs. The ceiling for Pascal has always been an interesting one – there’s no doubt about that.
Can he get to the “team leader” position, or will he peak as a solid 2nd scoring option?
Carmelo Anthony was just 19 years old when he popped in and immediately started putting up 21 points /game – on around 20+ more minutes per game than Siakam was getting his rookie year, and also was less effective shooting – at about 8% less field goal percentage. But, I feel Siakam has a real chance to be better than Melo was, Pascal is putting up 24ppg, after finally cracking the starting lineup as their 1st option for the Raptors – after being a role player off the bench, for the first 2 seasons. Carmelo has shown to be more clutch, but that comes with confidence and experience – but there certainly are similarities to their careers.
Siakam has been the rock on Toronto with a superbly effective offensive game, and having the “brickhouse” Serge Ibaka and Siakam on the wings has been very potent. Pascal has improved his handles which has added another dimension and added to his elite athleticism, he has a real fluidity to his game and he has been in control on the court, showing teamwork and the ability to take over when needed. After Kawhi Leonard decided to leave, he stepped in and the Raptors remained a top ranking team in the East, showing his leadership ability, where some questioned if he would be able to be an option 1.
In terms of scoring – Siakam has a similar scoring ceiling to Carmelo Anthony which is pretty impressive, at the same age, in both careers, Melo has been better scoring but Siakam has been better from behind the arc. Siakam is way ahead of where Carmelo Anthony was at this point of his career with putting up the 3ball. Carmelo has historically been one of the best finishers in the game, but when getting to the bucket his first few years, has was not always strong to close in quickly, having been around 59% around the same ageline – Siakam is currently averaging 71% shooting near the rim – which is right around last seasons 72% – where he never had troubling finishing contested shots.
Carmelo Anthony is averaging just 1.6 apg – which is pretty low for a forward – but at his age in his 16 year career, he is pretty much looked to for his scoring now, where he has still been effective. Melo was never known as a facilitator – his ease of scoring has always been his calling card – and one of the most natural scorers I have watched, tapping into ball movement at random intervals, and hitting 3.5 apg only 3 times in his career. What will really determine how good Pascal Siakam gets – will be his court vision, and his playmaking. Pascal probably won’t ever get to the magical 5apg – he seems to also be more in the 3-4 assist /game ballpark – if he brought his passing up a bit, it would make him an even bigger threat and would then help open up his game even more. His vision has improved over the last 2 years – as his apg total has gone up from 2.0 to 3.6 /game.
Pascal came into the league as a “guy with potential” – on the offensive end – but would be a project, he has shown he has a high level of talent – and he is now finally getting some respect – which in turn is getting him admiration and his newly found leadership has earned him time on the court, along with the Most Improved Player Award. If Pascal keeps improving his scoring ability, keeps rebounding like he has, getting around 7-8 /game – he can be the next generation version of Carmelo. They have similar scoring touch, rebounding and both have respect from their teammates – but I think Siakam has better teamwork than Anthony.
It would be a good bet that the 6-9 forward has still not reached his ceiling – and if he keeps growing as a player – the NBA is in for a wild ride.