At points over the last three seasons Pascal Siakam has shown just about everything you could want in a true NBA superstar.
In 2018-19, for example, Siakam burst onto the scene as a high-end role player for the Toronto Raptors, flashing a 38% catch-and-shoot three-point stroke and the kind of elite defense that earned him 24 second-team all-defensive team votes. The following year, his catch-and-shoot numbers dipped and his defense fell off a tad, but his scoring skyrocketed to 22.9 points per game thanks in part to his much-improved pull-up three-point shot and some nifty inside scoring. Even in Tampa, when everything seem to go awry for Siakam, his playmaking took a step forward only to result in a career-high 8.5 assists per game last season.
The problem for the 28-year-old is those stats have never quite coalesced at once. Something has always been slightly off for Siakam who struggled to consistently make his three-pointers and nail his mid-range shots last year despite having arguably the best season of his career.
This year, though, his teammates are sensing a change.
"I see Pascal like the better Pascal from when Kawhi (Leonard) was here, in the Finals when Pascal was like scoring everything off anywhere," Chris Boucher told reporters in Victoria B.C. "He can score from anywhere. His confidence is there, his swagger is there, so it really looks good."
Even on the heels of an All-NBA caliber campaign, Siakam is looking to take another step forward this season. He wants to be a top-five player in the league, the kind of true difference-maker that can lead a team to the top of the NBA mountain top and enter that MVP conversation.
Can it happen?
"Absolutely. No doubt about it," Fred VanVleet told reporters. "He's got the toolbox. There's not anything on the court that he can't do."
VanVleet is right. Everything is in there for Siakam to step into the next level. He's been a top 15 to 20 player in the past couple of seasons. Now it's about putting it all together.
"When somebody works hard like that usually it pays off," Boucher added. "You guys are gonna see it this year I think he's got you know all the tools to be in the MVP conversation and everything."