You may not know this, but the 2019 NBA Awards are being handed out tonight to the top regular season performers in the Association. I heard Shaq did a fun dance.
Anyway, in news that won’t be too surprising, the (NBA Champion) Raptors’ Pascal Siakam has been named the league’s Most Improved Player.
There’s not a more deserving player than Siakam, a late first round draft pick who went from unknown quantity to the Raptors’ second-most productive player at points this season. In his third year, Siakam improved from 7.3 points per game to 16.9; from 4.5 rebounds to 6.9; and from 2.0 assists to 3.1. Siakam started 79 of the 80 games he played in, a constant during the load management of Kawhi Leonard and a few other nagging injuries the Raptors went through this season.
In the playoffs, Siakam improved his numbers, becoming a player Toronto could rely on when options seemed thin. His 19.0 points per game went with 7.1 rebounds, with arguably his best game of the post-season saved for last — a 26-point, 10-rebound performance in the clinching Game 6 against the Warriors.
Siakam is the first Raptor to win the Most Improved Player award, which was introduced in 1985-86. You can watch his acceptance speech below.