Person of Interest: Raptors’ No. 27 pick Pascal Siakam

The Toronto Raptors appeared to go a little off the script with their 27th overall pick, selecting Pascal Siakam 27th overall at the 2016 NBA Draft.

Just a couple hours after taking Austrian big man Jakob Poeltl ninth overall, the Toronto Raptors appeared to go off the board a bit with the No. 27 selection to take Cameroonian forward Pascal Siakam.

Here’s what you need to know about the second first-round pick made by Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri that made basically everyone go, “Wait, who?”

Name: Pascal Siakam
Position: Power forward
Height: 6-foot-10 | Weight: 227 pounds
Drafted: 2016 – First round, 27th overall by the Toronto Raptors
2015-16 collegiate stats: 20.2 points, 11.6 rebounds, 2.2 blocks, 54.9 FG%

While a Cameroon native, Siakam played his college ball at New Mexico State where he was recruited to after moving to the United States at age 16 in order to devote himself to getting a basketball scholarship and earning a professional contract one day.

As such, he isn’t a complete greenhorn project the way Bruno Caboclo was when he was first drafted in 2014. Siakam does have a ways to go from a development standpoint, but he has been playing high-level basketball for the past two seasons.

Did the Raptors really go that off the board?
In short, yes.

According to, Siakam was the 52nd best prospect out of the top-100 2016 prospects and in mock drafts was expected to be picked in the early-to-mid stages of the second round. The Raptors, on the other hand, ended up taking him in the first.

Granted, it was very late in the first round, but that’s about 15 picks higher than he was projected to go.

Compound this with the fact projected lottery picks Deyonta Davis, Skal Labissiere and Dejounte Murray were all still on the board and you have a recipe for a classic reach.

The Raptors may not have had a second-round pick, but that doesn’t mean they should’ve went out and got a second-round prospect.

He’s not without pedigree
With that said, however, that isn’t to say Siakam is talentless. Far from it, in fact.

In his two seasons at New Mexico State, Siakam ended up being named WAC freshman and WAC player of the year, respectively.

As previously stated, despite the pick being a reach, this isn’t a Caboclo situation where the prospect Ujiri is bringing in has next to no high-level basketball experience, yet alone accomplishments.

In the two seasons Siakam played with the Aggies he showed real shot blocking instincts, something that will instantly draw him comparisons to Raptors free-agent-to-be Bismack Biyombo, who is also an athletic, all-energy, shot-blocking big man.

Unlike Biyombo, however, Siakam seems to have a much more polished offensive technique with a low-post game that features more agile footwork and a developing mid-range jumper.

Basketball runs in the family
Cameroon isn’t necessarily known as a basketball hotbed, but for the Siakams it seems to run in the family.

Pascal’s father, Tchamo, was a huge basketball fan and when he unfortunately passed away in a car accident in 2014, Pascal decided to take on his dad’s dream.

“For him, basketball was really important,” Pascal told American Sports Network last December “He really wanted one of his sons to have the opportunity (to possibly) play in the NBA or play professional basketball. That was his thing.

“So when he passed away, I felt that I just had to give everything I had just for him — and make his dream a reality as one of mine.”

Now having been drafted by the Raptors, it is a reality, but he isn’t the only Siakam to go pro.

Pascal’s brothers James and Boris are also professional players with James having played for the NBA D-League’s Delaware 87ers and Boris playing in Bahrain.

He has three older brothers and they all also played NCAA basketball with James and Boris having played at Vanderbilt and Western Kentucky, respectively, and Christian, who went to Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

Canadian connection
Playing for a Canadian team should be something Siakam will have no issues with. After all, he has been playing for a Canadian coach.

Aggies coach Paul Weir hails from Toronto where he first got his start coaching high school ball at Don Bosco Catholic Secondary School from 1999-2003. He also played CIS basketball for York University in 1998-99.

Since 2011, Weir has served as an assistant with the Aggies and was promoted to head coach this past April.

Weir’s influence is probably a big reason why so much Greater Toronto Area talent ends up at New Mexico State. Just this season the Aggies featured four players on their roster from the GTA in Matt Taylor, Rashawn Browne, Tanveer Bhullar and Jalyn Pennie.

Other Toronto Aggies alumni include Tanveer’s brother Sim, who played for Raptors D-League affiliate Raptors 905 this past season, and Daniel Mullings, who was really stoked to see not only a former teammate get drafted, but to see him land in his hometown.

Daniel W-Mullings on Twitter

So, given the people he’s been surrounded by for the last two years, Siakam and the Six should mesh just fine.

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