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76ers coach Nick Nurse on Indiana Pacers forward Pascal Siakam: 'He was such an interesting prospect'

Nurse coached Siakam for five seasons

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Pacers acquired Pascal Siakam last month, and he has already fit in well with his new team. The two-time All-NBA forward is averaging 21.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 5.2 assists per game across 10 outings with the blue and gold.

The Pacers have noted how impressed they are with the path Siakam took. He honed his skills in the G League as a rookie, grew from a role player to a starter to a star, and became an important part of an NBA Champion. That journey molded Siakam into who he is today.

For five of Siakam's 7.5 seasons in Toronto with the Raptors, head coach Nick Nurse oversaw his development. Dwane Casey and Darko Rajakovic also played a part in Siakam's growth, but Nurse was a key factor in most of it.

He is now the head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, who were in Indianapolis to take on the Pacers just under two weeks ago. And Nurse gushed about the two-time All-Star ahead of their battle in Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

"He was such an interesting prospect when he arrived. Just so full of energy and speed and running the floor and an awesome love of the game," Nurse said. He was an assistant when Siakam was drafted. "Came in as a rookie and was just playing so hard. Kind of providing transition buckets... playing great defense."

Siakam's scoring average jumped 9.6 points per game in his first season under Nurse. Toronto won a title that year. The following campaign, Siakam averaged nearly 23 points per game and made his first All-Star team.

"He wanted to go to the G League and play. He fell out of the rotation a little bit," Nurse said of Siakam's early time with the Raptors. The now-76ers head coach shared that Siakam hoped for opportunities with the Raptors 905 so that he could get better. He had the energy to improve every single day.

The Cameroonian forward averaged over 18 points per game in the G League and helped the 905 win the G League (then D-League) title. Nurse was impressed with all of Siakam's work ethic he showed as a young player.

"His shooting needed some work, and man did he go to work on it," he said. Siakam made 109 threes in his first three NBA seasons combined before knocking down 131 in his fourth campaign alone.

Nurse said it was good to see Siakam grow as a player, and he's been happy to see many of his former players with the Raptors thriving in new locations. He, too, is doing well as the head coach of the 30-19 76ers.

The Pacers went on to win by 12 points that night, and Siakam finished with a triple-double. He was terrific, and it was an important victory for the blue and gold.

Indiana and Philadelphia won't face off again this season, so Siakam and Nurse are done with their battles this campaign. But they will duel again at some point, and they both wouldn't be who they are today without each other.

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