Siakam is worthy of the Most Improved Player award
Unleashing Pascal Siakam is right up there with some of the best decisions Nick Nurse has made in his debut season as a head coach in the NBA, the Cameroonian power forward has been one of the breakout stars of the championship chasing Toronto Raptors this season.
The meteoric rise from a role player to a certified starter has not only seen Siakam tally career-high numbers in points, rebounds, shooting percentage and his all-round efficiency, he is also one of the hot favorites to win the Most Improved Player award.
Siakam was a respectable member of the Raptors' bench mob, he played his role well and he certainly impressed despite being given limited minutes. Nurse could have easily paired Serge Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas as the power forward and center combination at the beginning of the current season given their experience but instead he opted for the more athletic, versatile and faster Siakam at the power forward position while Ibaka and Valanciunas would take turns at the center position.
Siakam was impressive in the pre-season games and he added a different dimension to his game, his passing and assist rate increased in the pre-season games and this showed what the young player had more in his locker.
His shooting was not always his strong suit but he has worked a lot on it and he has been comfortable taking tough shots this season, a player of his size would normally depend on dunks or finishing closer to the rim as his go-to-moves but Siakam has resisted the urge to be one dimensional by taking more outside shots, as a result his 3-point shooting percentage has significantly rose to 35.6%. Be it corner threes or top of the key threes, the Raptors forward's confidence in his own shooting abilities has grown a lot.
Siakam is currently tallying a career best 17 points per game for the season. His form in the last five games has been even more impressive, he is averaging 25 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists per game in the current five game spell.
The Raptors are currently 3-2 in the five game stretch but Siakam has raised his efficiency level once again to try to displace the Milwaukee Bucks as the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Siakam has scored 20+ points on 24 occasions this season, he has also recorded 16 double-doubles according to basketball-reference.com.
Does he have the edge over other MIP candidates?
The likes of Buddy Hield, D'Angelo Russell (who became an All-Star this season) and Zach LaVine have been mentioned as a few of the top contenders for the MIP award given their incredible leaps this year.
While the aforementioned players are all top contenders in their own right, Siakam has made the biggest transformation because all the mentioned players have been starters while Siakam was a bench player who is now a vital piece in a title-chasing team, while also recording double digits on an almost nightly basis. His impact has been the most significant considering that he has been a major contributor to a contending team.