It has been roughly three summers since Pascal Siakam’s name was called by Adam Silver at the 2016 NBA Draft, and the former New Mexico State standout’s career looks better than ever, bolstered by the accolades and trophies he has been steadily collecting. After winning an NBA title earlier this month—and scoring 19.8 ppg in the Finals—Siakam took home the title of Most Improved Player at this evening’s NBA Awards, beating out De’Aaron Fox of the Sacramento Kings and D’Angelo Russell of the Brooklyn Nets.
When Pascal Siakam first laced up for the New Mexico State Aggies in 2014, few could have predicted the heights he would one day reach. He had only begun playing basketball three years prior, and he was in a seminary before that. Nevertheless, he helped his team advance to the NCAA Tournament in his first year and then put up 20.3 points per game the following season (averaging a double-double due to his 11.6 rebounds per game), he was taken with the 27th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, putting forth minimal production as a rookie for the Toronto Raptors.
Yet here he is, in his third season of NBA action, putting up numbers that clearly illustrate why he’s such a valuable asset to Toronto and deserving of the Most Improved Player crown:
Then, in his acceptance speech, Siakam took the time to poignantly honor his late father, who died following a tragic car accident in 2014:
@pskills43 of the @Raptors wins the 2018-19 Most Improved Player! #KiaMIP #NBAAwards pic.twitter.com/5hPCexZov1— NBA (@NBA) June 25, 2019
There’s no denying that Siakam deserved this award, and the work he has put into every step of his basketball journey is quite evident. His rapid rise is one of the best stories in basketball today, and he shows no signs of stopping. Thankfully, he still has a lot of time left to keep making his mark on the league, though this time his success won’t be all that surprising.