Toronto Raptors: 3 bold predictions for 2019-20 NBA season

(Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
(Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
(Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

2. Pascal Siakam will be a first-time All-Star

Following a breakout 2018-19 campaign, ascension to All-Star status feels predetermined for Pascal Siakam. Only 12 players from the Eastern Conference make the All-Star team in a traditional year, however. More improvement will be needed from him to make the cut in February.

Siakam earned Most Improved Player honors in 2018-19. In his third NBA season, the forward emerges as a full-time starter, averaging a robust 16.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game, all career-highs. His scoring and rebounding improve further in the postseason as he handled the highest minute load (37.1 per game) of his career.

The other end of the court is where Spicy P can stand to improve further. Siakam’s defense is better than league average, contributing 3.6 Defensive Win Shares last season, per Basketball-Reference. His Defensive Box Plus/Minus took a step back from the previous season, though, when he ranked in the top 20 of the NBA despite coming off the bench.

Siakam also needs to be careful with his physicality. His 241 personal fouls in 2018-19 ranked second in the Eastern Conference.

As for a path to an All-Star nod, it exists. Of the 14 players who were named All-Stars in the Eastern Conference last season, two have left for the Western Conference (Leonard, D’Angelo Russell). Health will keep Kevin Durant off the roster and may do the same for Victor Oladipo.

An All-Star trip would be a big development for Pascal Siakam. It would certainly pressure the Raptors front office to offer their young star a max contract while also giving them a prized piece in their upcoming rebuild.