Pascal Siakam went nuts during Game 1 of the NBA Finals Thursday night. The Toronto Raptors forward exploded for 32 points, eight rebounds and five assists while introduced himself to the world. Behind Siakam, the Raptors spanked the Golden State Warriors 118-109 to open the finals.
Here are five things to know about Siakam.
He’s from Douala, Cameroon
Siakam was born in Douala, Cameroon and was the youngest of four brothers. His older brothers all earned scholarships to Division I schools, but Siakam wasn’t really interested in basketball.
Luc Mbah a Moute discovered him
Siakam was discovered by Luc Mbah a Moute, whose parents lived about two miles from the Seminary where Siakam was studying to become a Catholic priest. When he turned 15, he no longer wanted to become a priest and began developing an interest in basketball.
He went to New Mexico State
Siakam enrolled at New Mexico State in 2013 but redshirted the 2013-14 season due to an injury. He was named WAC Freshman of the Year in 2014-15, and was unanimously selected as WAC Player of the Year in 2015-16 after averaging 20.2 points, 11.6 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in 24 games. He declared for the draft after the 2016 season.
He was a late first-round pick
The Raptors got a steal when they selected Siakam with the 27th pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. He turned out to be one of the more impactful players from his draft year.
This season he took a huge leap forward, averaging career-highs in points (16.9), rebounds (6.9), assists (3.1) and minutes (31.9) per game. He also set a new career-high in PER at 18.74.
He led Raptors 905 to the D-League title in 2017
In 2017, Siakam led Raptors 905, Toronto’s D-League team, to the NBA Development League Championship. They beat the Rio Grande Valley Vipers 2-1 in a best of three series. Siakam was named D-League Finals MVP after averaging 23.0 points and 9.0 rebounds in the series.