NBA

Heat Check: Who will be the next Pascal Siakam? Who will be the next breakout player?

Who will be the next breakout player? Who will follow in the footsteps of Pascal Siakam?
Who will be the next breakout player? Who will follow in the footsteps of Pascal Siakam? (Getty Images)

Pascal Siakam broke out in 2018-19 and help the Toronto Raptors capture their first-ever NBA title.

Siakam was a large part of the Raptors' championship core due to the leap he made on both ends of the floor.

We asked our NBA.com experts to weigh in on who will be the next Pascal Siakam and help their team get in position to one day win an NBA championship.

Carlan Gay (@TheCarlanGay): The Atlanta Hawks have become everyone's favourite team over the past couple of days. They're expected to make a big jump over the next couple of years but to make that jump they'll need one of their young future stars to make the Pascal Siakam-like jump and soon.

John Collins is that guy.

Collins' second season was a huge jump in production from 10.5 points to 19.5. From 7.3 rebounds to 9.8 and become a more efficient player with a PER of 21.8.

That was the type of jump he made in college from his freshmen season to his sophomore year at Wake Forest.

But now he's going to have to make that impact on a winning team. Collins will start getting recognition once his team starts winning and if he can become the leader the Hawks need, he'll accelerate the Hawks progression.

Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13): I'm taking Lonzo Ball who I expect to benefit tremendously from a change of scenery.

This time last season, Siakam was on nobody's radar as a fringe All-Star and it wasn't until a boost of confidence playing pressure-free hoops alongside a transcendent star that paved the way for Siakam to catapult into the spotlight.

Zion Williamson is not Kawhi Leonard - at least not yet - but I expect Ball to thrive playing an uptempo game next to a running mate that can take full advantage of Ball's extraordinary vision. It's not that long ago that Ball ranked among the top 10 in the entire league in assists per game and I expect him to return to that level of production alongside Williamson, Brandon Ingram and Jrue Holiday. It's also worth mentioning that Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry loves to play at a high pace which suits Ball's game perfectly.

It's a flawed roster that's far from a finished product so it might be not be realistic for New Orleans to play winning basketball just yet. But they are talented and if the wins start piling up at a higher rate than expected, Ball will have likely played a large role with a Siakam-like impact.

Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_): The Boston Celtics started the 2018-19 season as heavy favourites to reach the NBA Finals. After a year of ups-and-downs, locker room turmoil and underachievement, there wasn't much good to find in a disappointing season. However, there is one player that I felt better about at the end of the season compared to the start of the season, and that player is Jaylen Brown.

After the All-Star break, Brown averaged 13.7 points per game - a slight uptick on his average for the season, but he was much more efficient. Brown shot 50.2% from the field and 41.3% from beyond the arc after All-Star Weekend.

After a tough first two games in the Playoffs, Brown turned into the Celtics' most consistent player. He posted 16.7 points and 5.4 rebounds per game shooting 52.6% from the field and 40.0% from 3 while bringing a ton of energy on the defensive end as well.

With the crystal ball showing that Kyrie Irving and Al Horford are likely departing from Boston, they're going to need to their young guys to step up as leaders. Brown and Jayson Tatum will have to take on roles similar to the 2018 Playoffs where they led the Celtics one game shy of the NBA Finals and after seeing Brown's second half of the season and Playoffs, I believe he's ready to take a Pascal Siakam-type leap next year.

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