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Masai Ujiri says Pascal Siakam ‘wants to be a superstar’

Raptors, Masai Ujiri, Pascal Siakam

Toronto Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri spent the last few seasons putting together a championship-caliber team. Under Ujiri’s stewardship, the Raptors boldly traded for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, acquired Marc Gasol, and earlier re-signed Kyle Lowry and assembled the league’s best bench.

An under-the-radar move made, though, by the Raptors was selecting Cameroonian forward Pascal Siakam towards the end of the first round of the 2016 NBA Draft. That move, plus investing and developing in Siakam, has paid in dividends, with Siakam being a key contributor to the 2018-19 championship-winning Raptors squad.

Now, with Leonard gone, Siakam plans on entering the next phase of his career and kicking it into the next gear, too.

Siakam, in his home country holding a basketball camp for the youth, is also hanging with his team’s president Ujiri, who told the children in attendance that the power forward “wants to be a superstar” (via Giants of Africa).

Siakam averaged 16.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game in 80 appearances, shooting 54.9% from the floor, 36.9% from deep, and 78.5% from the free throw line last season en route to the Most Improved Player award and the franchise’s first title. He’s been a development case study for the Ontario, Canadian, franchise—the latest example of how Toronto’s front office and player development personnel have succeeded where other organizations may have given up. Siakam averaged 4.2 points per game in 55 contests during his rookie season in 2016-17.

Nonetheless, Siakam will likely be the face of the franchise in the future, with Leonard’s free-agent signing with the Los Angeles Clippers. The Raptors still have Lowry, Gasol, and Serge Ibaka.