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Pascal Siakam couldn’t bring himself to watch the All-NBA teams get announced earlier this week. He knew the numbers he’d posted warranted that kind of attention, but what was the point in watching, he thought. To him, it was an event entirely out of his control.

“I don’t know. I just feel like I don't like watching those things,” he said Friday from the sunny deck of some foreign vacation spot. “Yeah, like, just I don't have control over something it's kind of hard for me to just be there and try to try to watch that.”

At 28 years old, Siakam has learned not to sweat the little things. Control what you can control, he thinks. It’s why he’s obsessed with the summertime, this summer in particular. After two pandemic-plagued offseasons and offseason shoulder surgery last year that ate up his entire 2021 summer, the Toronto Raptors forward and newly minted two-time All-NBA recipient is just focused on one thing: getting better.

“I feel like there’s just such a beauty in the work,” he said. “I don't know. Just something about that because I'm just obsessed with that.”

It’s the thousands of jumpers he takes in the empty gyms when nobody is watching that invigorates him. There’s something beautiful about it, he says, to work to exhaustion trying to get better knowing full well that perfection is unattainable.

That’s what made last summer so frustrating for Siakam. For the first time in his life, he was out of commission, unable to train, and forced to go under the knife to repair his injured shoulder. It made him question his place and wonder if he’d ever get back to that player he was when he first made All-NBA as a second-teamer in 2019.

It helped, he said, having his team in his ear. His agent, training staff, and the Raptors kept pushing him, encouraging him to keep fighting.

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When the season started for Siakam in early November, things weren’t pretty. He looked out of sorts on both ends of the court. He was shaky, as he put it, unreliable and unwilling to do the things that had made him so good.

Then, when it clicked, Siakam didn’t look back. From January 1 onward, he averaged 23.9 points, nearly nine rebounds, six assists, and shot 50% from the floor over 49 games as he reclaimed his spot among the league’s very best. Sure, it was disappointing when he didn’t make the All-Star Game in February, but Siakam was focused on bigger things.

"I think that I'm getting better, like, and that's something I always have to remind myself," he said. "As long as I continue to improve the way that I'm doing, like, I can play at a higher level for a very long time. So that's it. That's my goal. ... I expect more, I expect myself to play at a level that I probably haven't played before now."

On Tuesday, the call came from his agent who broke the news to him that he’d made the All-NBA third team.

This time it felt different than the last.

“The first one was special… but I think, yeah, like, this is a little bit sweeter,” he said. “Just knowing, like, everything that I've been through, … just staying calm throughout everything and just trusting my work. And I think that's just a good thing to have, just knowing that things can always change, and, like I used to always say, the storm ends eventually ends.”

Further Reading

Khem Birch undergoes surgery to clean up ailing right knee

Pascal Siakam reclaims spot as one of NBA's best with All-NBA honors for 2021-22

Former Raptors guard Jalen Harris joins Scarborough Shooting Stars