Pascal Siakam Toronto Lakers
Photo: SKY Sports

His nickname in the land of the 6 is Spicy P. Pascal Siakam, the new man of the Raptors, and star forward from Cameroon. Pascal began his collegiate career at New Mexico State, home of the Aggies – arriving for the upcoming 2013-2014 season. However, Siakam would suffer a heavily unprecedented injury that ended up costing him to forfeit his first college season.

Siakam would consequently choose to red-shirt his first official year enrolled as a college student-athlete. He would return healthy and hungry the following season, immediately impacting the Aggies offense, earning the Western Athletic Conference Freshman of the year award.

The current Raptors’ All-Star would progress in every offensive stat category the following two years before declaring for the 2016 NBA Draft, shortly after winning the WAC Player of the Year award. The Raptors, fresh out of an elimination to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals, took a shot on the lanky forward from the predominantly small school. He was seen as a developmental player, one of the last picks in the first round (27th overall).

Although he bounced between the Raptors G League Affiliate, the 905 Raptors, his rookie season, he started 38 times at the forward position – averaging just under 5 points on the year in the NBA, yet being named the NBA D League Finals MVP. Siakam would take leaps in his sophomore season, asserting himself into a solid bench role contributor for the Raptors, almost doubling his scoring point average compared to his rookie season.

The following season, Spicy P emerged as not only a Raptors fan favorite, but a solid 2nd or 3rd scoring option behind previous all-stars Kyle Lowry and Kawhi Leonard. Fans would argue Siakam’s impact on the 2019 NBA Finals could have earned him a case to the right of the MVP Finals award, but he was all in for the team regardless. It was by this year he was a certified starter and proved himself to be a steal at 27th overall in 2016.

Likewise to both his rookie and sophomore year seasons, Pascal’s points per game average more than doubled, earning himself to be a household name in the mind of an NBA fan – as well as earning Most Improved NBA Player award honors.

The following season – post-championship, Kawhi Leonard would sign with the Los Angeles Clippers. The Raptors urgently worked to secure Siakam to a lucrative contract to pair with Kyle Lowry, signing him to a four-year, 130 million dollar contract. He saw his minutes rise for the fourth consecutive year in the 2019-2020 season, up to 35 minutes per game while being selected to his first all-star game – as well as being named a starter.

Siakam’s season, as well as hundreds of other NBA players have been cut short due to the coronaVirus epidemic, yet the Cameroonian forward scored his career-high early in the season at 44 against the Pelicans in a match-up early November.