Pascal Siakam

Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Micic, Sixers, Knicks

Approximately two-thirds of the NBA’s teams have reopened their practice facilities, but the Celtics aren’t yet among that group. According to Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald, the club is still waiting on the go-ahead from the state government before moving forward with those plans. The C’s, who have been in frequent contact with Massachusetts officials, are hoping they’ll get that green light soon, as Bulpett details.

“I mean, we’re hoping it’s any day. We’re just waiting to hear,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said. “… What we’re trying to do is have one-on-zero workouts. Like, it’s probably the cleanest environment that anybody’s working at in the country, with the sanitization that has to go on and the coaches wearing masks and gloves. I mean, heck, it doesn’t seem that complicated. But I understand that people in leadership have very difficult jobs right now.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Serbian point guard Vasilije Micic is coming off an impressive season with EuroLeague team Anadolu Efes and is one of the NBA’s most intriguing draft-and-stash players. The Sixers hold Micic’s NBA rights, prompting Derek Bodner, Mike O’Connor, and Rich Hofmann of The Athletic to explore whether this offseason is the right time for Philadelphia to try to convince the 26-year-old to come stateside.
  • In Jayson Tatum (Celtics), Pascal Siakam (Raptors), and Ben Simmons (Sixers), the Atlantic Division features a trio of rising young wings who appear poised to play important roles for their teams for years to come. In a two-part series, Jared Weiss, Blake Murphy, and Mike O’Connor of The Athletic debate which of the three players has the brightest future.
  • It has been a bit of an awkward transition period for the Knicks and new president of basketball operations Leon Rose, who was officially hired just nine days before the NBA’s season was suspended. However, Rose has received positive reviews for the changes he has made to the club’s front office so far, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post.

How 2020 All-NBA Picks Could Impact Contract Situations

All-NBA selections have become more important than ever in recent years, since teams can agree to increase the overall value of certain maximum-salary contracts based on whether or not a player has earned All-NBA honors in a given season.

Those higher max salaries are also available to players who win MVP or Defensive Player of the Year, but there’s only one of each of those awards per year. There are 15 All-NBA players annually, creating more opportunities for players to become eligible for those more lucrative contracts, informally known as “super-max” deals.

As we explain in our glossary entry on the “Designated Veteran Extension,” a player with between seven and nine years of NBA experience who meets certain contract criteria and hasn’t changed teams since the end of his rookie contract become eligible for a maximum salary worth 35% of the cap – instead of 30% – if he was named to an All-NBA team in the most recent season, or in two of the last three seasons.

Similar incentives are available for players coming off their rookie scale contracts, as noted in our glossary entry on the “Derrick Rose Rule.” Those players can earn max deals worth up to 30% of the cap instead of 25% if they were named to an All-NBA team in the most recent season, or in two of the last three seasons.

The differences between the various levels of maximum salaries can be substantial over the course of a long-term contract. For instance, in 2019/20, a five-year max contract that starts at 25% of the cap and includes 8% annual raises is worth just over $158MM. By comparison, a five-year deal that starts at 35% of the cap with 8% annual raises is worth over $221MM. A five-year contract at the 30% max falls in between, at about $190MM.

We don’t know yet what this year’s All-NBA teams will look like – or even when voting will take place – but as our informal polls last week showed, there are a number of candidates whose future earnings could be affected by whether or not they earn one of those 15 spots.

Let’s take a closer look at some of those players…

Players who have already qualified for super-max contracts:

Antetokounmpo and Gobert didn’t even need to rely on All-NBA spots to qualify for super-max contracts — Giannis’ MVP award last year and Gobert’s back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year awards in 2018 and 2019 secured their eligibility.

Because both players only had six years of experience entering the 2019/20 season, they had to wait one more year to be eligible to actually receive super-max extension offers, which would be worth 35% of the cap instead of 30%.

Antetokounmpo is a lock to receive such an offer from the Bucks, who have publicly said they’ll put it on the table as soon as they can. That was supposed to happen this July, but the NBA’s hiatus has thrown that timeline into flux. Whenever Milwaukee makes its offer, it would be for a five-year extension that would start in 2021/22 and be worth 35% of that season’s cap.

Gobert’s outlook is cloudier. He could also sign a five-year, 35% max-salary extension that would start in 2021/22, but he’s not at the same level of superstardom that Giannis is, so it remains to be seen how aggressive the Jazz will actually be in attempting to lock him up beyond next season.

Players whose already-signed rookie extensions would be impacted by an All-NBA selection:

Siakam and Simmons signed maximum-salary rookie scale extensions with their respective teams last fall. Both contracts will go into effect in 2020/21 and both include Rose Rule language, meaning they’ll be among the players closely monitoring this year’s All-NBA results.

In our series of polls, Siakam earned a spot on the All-NBA Second Team. However, I think there’s a real possibility he could end up on the Third Team. Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, and Kawhi Leonard will likely receive more votes than Siakam. Anthony Davis will place higher than Siakam too if voters consider him a forward. And even if Davis is listed as a center, Jayson Tatum is among those who should give Siakam a strong push for that Second Team forward spot.

While Siakam might be satisfied to end up on any All-NBA team, a spot on the Second Team would be far more satisfying from a financial perspective. His deal calls for a starting salary worth 28% of the cap if he earns All-NBA Second Team honors, but just 25% if he makes the Third Team.

As we outlined in the fall, that difference would have been worth nearly $16MM over four years based on a $116MM cap. The cap is no longer expected to get that high, but even so, missing out on a Second Team spot would cost Siakam millions.

As for Simmons, he wasn’t one of the 15 players voted to an All-NBA team by Hoops Rumors readers, but he looks to me like a viable candidate for the Third Team. If he makes the Third Team, his starting salary would be 28% of next year’s cap, rather than the 25% he’d get if he doesn’t make an All-NBA squad. Those three percentage points would impact Simmons even more than they would Siakam over the life of their contracts, since Simmons’ five-year deal runs for an extra season and the amount of the annual raises are based on the starting salary.

Nuggets guard Jamal Murray also signed a rookie scale extension with Rose Rule language, but isn’t a realistic candidate for an All-NBA nod.

Players whose next contract could be impacted by an All-NBA selection this season:

If Embiid – who was voted onto Hoops Rumors’ All-NBA Third Team – earns an All-NBA spot this season after doing so last year, he’d be in the same position heading into 2020/21 that Antetokounmpo and Gobert were entering 2019 — he’d have qualified for a super-max extension, but wouldn’t yet be eligible to sign one.

Once the 2021/22 league year begins, Embiid would have seven years of NBA experience, with All-NBA nods in at least two of the last three years, making him eligible to sign a four-year super-max extension that would begin in 2023/24, with a starting salary worth 35% of the cap. Even if Embiid doesn’t make an All-NBA team this season, doing so next year would still make him eligible for that same deal.

As for Ingram, he’s a long shot to be named to an All-NBA team, but in the unlikely event that he is, he’d be eligible to sign for a starting salary of up to 30% of the cap on a new free agent contract with the Pelicans. No other team looking to sign him to an offer sheet could exceed 25% of the cap in that scenario.

Other players to start monitoring if they earn All-NBA honors this season:

These players fall into a few separate sub-categories. Jokic and Booker, for instance, are in their fifth seasons and on their second NBA contracts. An All-NBA spot – which is far likelier for Jokic – would be a good start toward earning super-max eligibility, but they’d still have to make another All-NBA team in either 2021 or 2022 to become eligible to sign a Designated Veteran Extension in 2022.

Doncic, an All-NBA lock, and Young, a lesser candidate, are only in their second NBA seasons. If they were to make All-NBA teams this year and next, they’d be eligible to sign rookie scale extensions with starting salaries worth up to 30% of the cap during the 2021 offseason. Those deals would go into effect in 2022/23.

Adebayo, Mitchell, and Tatum are all in their third seasons and will be extension-eligible during the 2020 offseason. Earning an All-NBA spot this year actually wouldn’t do much for their Rose Rule eligibility — they’d still have to do it again in 2021 to qualify, since the criteria calls for an All-NBA berth in either the season before the new contract begins or in two of the three prior seasons.

Still, earning All-NBA honors this year would give those three players additional leverage to negotiate Rose Rule language into their potential rookie scale extensions, which would go into effect in 2021/22.

Strong All-NBA candidates who are notably ineligible for super-max contracts:

Beal was in position to qualify for a super-max extension if he had earned All-NBA honors this season, but the short-term contract extension he signed last October eliminated that possibility. By the time that extension expires, he’ll have 10 years of NBA experience and will be eligible for the 35% max anyway.

Davis has the right amount of NBA experience to gain eligibility and should be an All-NBA lock, but the fact that he changed teams last summer ensures he’ll no longer qualify for a Designated Veteran Contract this offseason — he missed out on the possibility of the super-max as soon as he left the Pelicans.

Various other All-NBA candidates won’t meet the super-max criteria for various reasons. Some, like James Harden, are already on a super-max contract. Others, such as LeBron James, already have 10+ years of experience and can’t qualify for a higher max than the 35% they already get. Recently changing teams (ie. Jimmy Butler) or signing new long-term deals (ie. Khris Middleton) also remove certain players from super-max contention.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coronavirus Updates: EuroLeague, NBL, Bubble City, Salaries

The deadline on whether to resume the EuroLeague and EuroCup seasons is the end of May, according to league president Jordi Bertomeu, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando tweets. The final decision will be made during the last two weeks of the month, Carchia adds. If play is resumed, it wouldn’t begin any later than July, Carchia adds in another tweet.

We have more coronavirus-related updates:

  • Players in Australia’s NBL have agreed to a tiered system of pay reductions, with players earning $200K or more receiving a 50% pay cut, Olgun Uluc of ESPN Australia reports. The minimum player salary of $60K will remain and those players making $80K or less won’t see a reduction. All players will have an opportunity during the two weeks leading up to free agency to opt out of their current contracts. However, each player’s NBL rights will be retained by their respective club, Uluc adds.
  • There’s hope that immediate family members would be able to accompany their NBA-playing relatives to Las Vegas if they NBA opts for “bubble” concept to resume the season, according to David Aldridge of The Athletic. By allowing close family members to join them, the desire to leave the city during the resumption of play would be eliminated, an unnamed player agent told Aldridge.
  • Players such as Ben Simmons and Pascal Siakam who signed rookie scale extensions last fall will have their pay reduced based on this season’s salary, not the first year of their extensions, Bobby Marks of ESPN notes. Players agreed to have 25% of their paychecks withheld beginning on May 15. Restricted free agents such as Brandon Ingram will also have their pay reductions come out of just their 2019/20 salary, not future earnings, Marks adds.

Ripple Effect Of Hiatus On Contracts, Cap, Offseason Dates

Given the typically rigid nature of the NBA’s annual calendar, the current hiatus threatens to complicate a number of dates and deadlines that will arrive in the coming months. In his latest Insider-only article for ESPN.com, Bobby Marks takes a closer look at how those dates – linked to contracts and the salary cap – may be impacted, noting that the NBA and NBPA are expected to collectively bargain a set of transition rules once the league establishes a return timeline.

For instance, there are 29 player options and 12 team options that are currently scheduled to be exercised or declined before the end of June. Those dates will almost certainly have to be adjusted. The same goes for certain salary guarantee dates and the expiry dates on traded player exceptions, as Marks explains. Of course, the start of the 2020/21 league year will have to be pushed back too, so players with expiring contracts don’t become free agents on July 1.

Contract incentives will also be an issue worth keeping an eye on. Marks observes that during the lockout-shortened 2011/12 season, players’ incentives were prorated based on the fact that the league played 66 games instead of 82 games. The NBA could take similar measures this season. For instance, if a player needs to play 1,000 minutes to earn a bonus and his team ends up playing just 70 of 82 games, his incentive requirement would be adjusted so he only needs to play 70/82nds of 1,000 minutes (854 minutes).

Marks’ article is jam-packed with interesting info and is worth checking out in full if you have an Insider subscription. Here are a few more highlights:

  • Although the NBA’s basketball related income for 2019/20 is projected to take a huge hit as a result of this hiatus and the controversy with China in the fall, it’s too early to say what that will mean for the 2020/21 salary cap, according to Marks. In situations like this, the NBA and NBPA generally negotiate in good faith a cap adjustment that satisfies both sides, so we’re unlikely to see a big drop-off next year.
  • Still, with the cap for the next year or two no longer expected to increase by nearly as much as the NBA initially projected, the ripple effect could be significant. Maximum-salary contract extensions scheduled to go into effect next season or in 2021/22 for players like Jamal Murray, Ben Simmons, Pascal Siakam, and Damian Lillard won’t be as lucrative as previously estimated, and teams will no longer have as much cap or tax flexibility as expected. As Marks points out, that could influence players with option decisions — they may be more inclined to opt in for ’20/21, with less leaguewide spending power available in the offseason.
  • Resuming the regular season – rather than just jumping straight to the playoffs – may not be a top priority for many fans, but there are reasons why the NBA won’t want to skip that step, Marks writes. Teams that wanted to make roster moves prior to the postseason wouldn’t get a chance to do so if the NBA moves straight from its current moratorium to the playoffs. For example, in that scenario, the Thunder wouldn’t get the opportunity to convert two-way player Luguentz Dort to their 15-man roster. As such, the NBA may want to play a few regular season games or at least give teams a few days to make necessary roster moves.

Siakam, Powell Return To Raptors

Rising Raptors star power forward Pascal Siakam and guard Norman Powell will both return to the starting five for Toronto in Sunday’s game against the Spurs, TSN’s Josh Lewenberg reports (Twitter link). Both will be placed on a minutes limit in their first game back since December. Lewenberg also notes that starting center Marc Gasol remains out (Twitter link).

Siakam, Powell, and Gasol, all Raptors starters, had all been sidelined indefinitely since a December 19 tilt against the Pistons. Siakam had been battling a stretched groin, Gasol a hamstring injury, and Powell a subluxation of his left shoulder.

Siakam is currently third in Eastern Conference All-Star frontcourt balloting, with 1,730,763 fan votes received as of January 9th, according to an Associated Press report (link via SI.com).

A fantastic two-way player, the 6’9″ Siakam had emerged as a borderline MVP candidate with his sterling performance for the 25-13 Raptors. For the 2019/20 season, the No. 27 pick in the 2016 NBA draft out of New Mexico State is averaging career-highs of 25.1 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 3.6 APG, 81.3% free throw shooting, and 39.2% shooting on 6.3 three-point attempts across 27 games.

Powell has also taken a leap this season, logging a career-high slash line of 14.4 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.1 SPG, and 4.9 three-point attempts per game. The 6’3″ shooting guard, drafted No. 46 out of UCLA in 2015, is connecting on 38.9% of those looks. Powell has also been appearing in a career-high 28.9 minutes a night for the Raptors.

Atlantic Notes: Raptors, Siakam, Gallinari, C’s, Sixers

While some pundits still believe the Raptors might target future assets at the deadline, that’s clearly not the plan, according to Bruce Arthur of The Toronto Star, who argues that the team should prioritize upgrading its roster and securing its spot among the Eastern Conference contenders.

Before the Raptors make any roster changes, it would benefit the front office to see the team’s full roster in action, something that hasn’t happened much this season. Currently, four of Toronto’s top six players in minutes per game – Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol, Norman Powell, and Fred VanVleet – are sidelined, but the club may begin to clear its injured list soon.

Siakam, Gasol, and Powell all took part in practice on Friday on a limited basis, and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski hears that there’s hope Siakam could be back in the lineup within the next week or so. A Sunday return would be a bit ambitious for Siakam or Gasol, Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said today, but Powell is on track to be back on Sunday (Twitter link via Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca).

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Danilo Gallinari is among the potential trade targets the Celtics have monitored, a source tells Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. Pincus lays out how Boston could acquire a player like Gallinari or Andre Drummond, but since it would almost certainly involve moving Gordon Hayward or a package headed by Marcus Smart, I’m skeptical the C’s will seriously pursue either player.
  • The Sixers were victorious on Thursday in the first game of what could be a multi-week absence for Joel Embiid, but Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports argues the team should still be worried about not having its star center active. Meanwhile, ESPN’s Bobby Marks point out (via Twitter) that Norvel Pelle only has five NBA days left on his two-way contract and will have to return to the G League soon if Philadelphia doesn’t open up a 15-man roster spot for him.
  • After Kawhi Leonard denied having any offseason interest in the Knicks, the club found a way to put a positive spin on those comments, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. According to Berman, Kawhi’s uncle Dennis Robertson was in touch with the Knicks in the summer and wanted Leonard to listen to the team’s pitch. The Knicks claimed they canceled their scheduled meeting because they felt they were long shots for Leonard and believe the forward’s recent comments validate that decision, Berman notes.

Atlantic Notes: LeVert, Irving, Siakam, Gasol, Leonard

Nets guard Caris LeVert made his highly-anticipated return against the Raptors on Saturday night, seeing his first in-game action with the team since November 10.

LeVert, who had missed the last 24 games after undergoing surgery to address ligament damage in his thumb, finished with 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting off the bench despite being on a minutes restriction.

“I felt pretty good out there. Obviously we wanted to get a win, but just me personally, I felt pretty good,” LeVert said, as relayed by Brian Lewis of the New York Post.

LeVert is widely considered as one of the most talented players on the Nets when healthy, and it’s possible he’ll rejoin the team’s starting lineup in the coming weeks. He averaged 13.7 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game in 40 contests last season.

“Just adds one of our best players to the lineup quite honestly,” head coach Kenny Atkinson said of LeVert’s return. “A dynamic player, athleticism, quickness, speed. A guy that knows our system too. It’s not like some guy we signed out of the blue. I feel comfortable once he gets his rhythm. He knows what we’re doing on both sides of the ball so that’s a big comfort level.”

The Nets have been plagued with injuries to start the season, playing without Kevin Durant (torn Achilles’ rehab), Kyrie Irving (right shoulder; 11 games played), LeVert and others. Brooklyn owns the seventh-best record in the East at 16-18.

Here are some other notes from the Atlantic Division tonight:

  • Alex Schiffer of The Athletic details what we know about Kyrie Irving‘s lingering right shoulder injury, which has forced the six-time All-Star to miss the past 23 games. Irving recently received a cortisone shot for the shoulder impingement, opting to go this route instead of having arthroscopic surgery — for now. “I’m in a better place now that it’s been some significant time,” Irving said. “I tried to go without any anti-inflammatories, which is why it took so long. Now I’m at a place where the next step was to either get a cortisone shot or get surgery. So that was the ultimatum I was fixed with. So now I’m just doing the best I can to live off this cortisone and move forward if I need surgery in the future.”
  • Raptors big men Pascal Siakam (groin) and Marc Gasol (hamstring) still aren’t close to returning to action, head coach Nick Nurse said, as relayed by Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca (Twitter link). “I would still say, if I was guessing, the order of comeback would probably be Matt [Thomas] and Norm [Powell], Marc and then lastly Pascal if that’s the case,” Nurse said. “But I think we’re still, I mean, we’re still a ways away with Marc and Pascal. I think Norm and Matt are in the front-view mirror, let’s put it that way.”
  • Kawhi Leonard said he never considered joining the Knicks in free agency and denied scheduling a meeting with the team, Ian Begley of SNY.tv writes. “I never said I was considering going to the Knicks. Everybody knew where I wanted to go once I requested the trade so I don’t know where that came from,” Leonard said. New York lost out on Kawhi, who signed with the Clippers, as well as Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, who signed with the Nets. The Knicks claimed they pulled out of a scheduled meeting with Leonard.

Raptors Notes: Siakam, Gasol, Powell, VanVleet

The Raptors, who have already been without Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, and a handful of role players for stretches this season, will now put their roster depth to its biggest test yet. The team announced on Thursday that Pascal Siakam (groin), Marc Gasol (hamstring), and Norman Powell (shoulder) will all be sidelined indefinitely.

Siakam has been Toronto’s leading scorer and a borderline MVP candidate so far this season, while Gasol has been the team’s most valuable player on the defensive end. The loss of Powell shouldn’t be understated either — the 26-year-old swingman had been enjoying perhaps the best stretch of his career, averaging 16.8 PPG on .515/.423/.828 shooting in his last 20 games (30.8 MPG).

Here’s more on the Raptors as they look to fill the holes created by their latest series of injuries:

  • While the Raptors didn’t offer a definitive recovery timeline for any of their three newly-injured players, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Gasol is likely to miss a “period of weeks.” Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca (Twitter links) suggests that Siakam’s injury will likely be the most short-term of the three, while Powell’s injury figures to keep him out the longest. Siakam’s groin issue is believed to be a mild strain that the club is handling with caution, Grange notes.
  • As both Grange and Eric Koreen of The Athletic point out, Powell’s shoulder subluxation sounds similar to an injury he suffered last season, which cost him six weeks. Koreen believes it will be a “best-case scenario” for Toronto if Gasol and Powell each only miss a few weeks.
  • Getting Fred VanVleet, Matt Thomas, and Stanley Johnson back soon would help the Raptors address their depth concerns, Blake Murphy of The Athletic notes in an in-depth look on the fallout of the team’s injury woes. There’s hope that VanVleet may be able to return as early as Friday, but Grange says Thomas will likely be out for another week or so.
  • Koreen, Murphy, and Grange all wonder if the Raptors might consider adding someone to their roster. The 15-man squad is currently full though, so in order to make room for someone new, Toronto would have to trade or waive a back-of-the-roster player — or qualify for a hardship exception, which appears unlikely for now.

Pascal Siakam Among Raptors Out Indefinitely

Earlier today, we passed along word that Marc Gasol will miss time with a hamstring injury and the news from The North has gotten worse. Pascal Siakam and Norman Powell are each out indefinitely, the Raptors announced in a press release.

Siakam sustained a stretched groin, per the team, after landing awkwardly during the Raptors’ tilt against the Pistons. Powell also left that game after colliding with another player and the wing has been diagnosed with subluxation of his left shoulder.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Gasol will miss “a period of weeks” with his injury. The team didn’t put a timetable on it, instead calling the big man out indefinitely as well. Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca (Twitter link) hears that Siakam will likely be the quickest to return of the three.

After a summer that saw Toronto win an NBA championship and lose Kawhi Leonard, the team came back this year focused and it shows in the Raptors’ 19-8 record. The club sits fourth in the Eastern Conference as of this writing. However, it’ll be tough for the Raptors to remain to hold their position in the standings, given their injuries and the fact that the Sixers and Pacers are within a game of them.

Raptors Notes: Powell, Boucher, Gasol, Siakam

Raptors shooting guard Norman Powell has been playing some of the best basketball of his NBA career during his fifth NBA season, as Toronto Star reporter Doug Smith details.

Powell, in the second year of a four-year, $42MM extension with the team, also stands as one of the only Toronto players on a long-term deal. Before tonight’s win against the Pistons, Powell had been averaging career bests in points (14.6 PPG), rebounds (3.9 RPG), minutes (28.7), and field goal percentage (49.8%). 

“I’m just being able to read what the defense is doing,” Powell observed. “How they’re playing, where their bigs are at, whether it is a finish or a kick-out or a drop-off to the bigs, just … being aggressive.”

There’s more out of Canada:

  • In another piece, The Toronto Star’s Doug Smith notes that the play of emerging Raptors forward Chris Boucher has earned the Oregon alum more rotation minutes this season. A solid shot-blocker with good shooting range, the 6’9″ third year player has given head coach Nick Nurse reason to ponder making some lineup adjustments. “It’s not an easy thing to figure out,” Nurse allowed. “If you say you want to give someone more minutes that means you are taking some away from somebody else, and I don’t really know who that is right now.”
  • The Raptors’ latest victory may have come at a cost. Starters Powell and center Marc Gasol both suffered injuries, and will be reassessed in Toronto tomorrow. Blake Murphy of The Athletic reports that Gasol left the game with a strained left hamstring and Powell hurt his left shoulder on a Blake Griffin screen. Powell missed 21 games last season with a left shoulder subluxation against a Rudy Gobert screen.
  • Rod Beard of The Detroit News reports that Pistons head coach Dwane Casey did not anticipate Pascal Siakam‘s improvement from defensive role player to, now, one of the league’s best two-players. “I didn’t see that he would be a superstar and he is a superstar in our league right now,” Casey noted. “He started 38 games in his first year… Shooting was his last resort; it was his last offensive option.” The fourth-year forward is averaging 25.0 PPG, 8.2 RPG, and 3.6 APG for the 19-8 Raptors.