When the Toronto Raptors selected Pascal Siakam with the 27th pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, the expectation wasn't that he'd one day be an All-Star.
And yet, on the day in which starters for the 2020 NBA All-Star Game will be announced, there's a chance that the 25-year-old will hear his name called alongside the likes of LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard and James Harden.
Although few saw Siakam becoming the player he is today, he always believed that being an All-Star was in the cards, even when he was splitting time between the NBA and the then D-League as a rookie. He said as much following Toronto's win over the Philadelphia 76ers, a game in which he overcame a rough shooting night (8-23 FG) to finish with an 18-point, 15-rebound double-double.
"It's funny, I was. I literally was," Siakam responded when asked if he was thinking about one day being an All-Star as a rookie. "Probably looking at me play, you didn't think that, but I always had that. I always talk about it with Rico, from the first day we got together, that was something that we talked about. After MIP, it was like, 'OK, there is way more.' We thinking MVP, we thinking All-Star. That's always the mindset that we had going into that.
"I can't tell you that I didn't think this was going to be possible. I knew I was going to have to put a lot of work in, but I knew it was something that was definitely reachable."
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Siakam ranked second among forwards in the Eastern Conference in the third fan vote returns, Antetokounmpo being the only Eastern Conference player at his position ahead of him. He ranked third behind Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid in the first and second fan vote returns.
Based on that, Siakam would be a starter in this year's All-Star Game. However, fans account for only 50 percent of the final vote for the starters. The other 50 percent is made up by current players and a media panel, with each side accounting for 25 percent of the vote each.
But even if the players and media panel don't agree with the fans that Siakam should be an All-Star starter, there's a good chance he'll be voted in by the coaches as a reserve.
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Through 33 games this season, Siakam is averaging 23.5 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.0 blocks, all of which are career-highs. He's shooting 45.4 percent from the field and 36.7 percent from 3-point range.
With Siakam on the court, Toronto's offensive rating has improved by 5.8 points per 100 possessions this season. That's the second-highest mark on the team among players in the rotation.
After Wednesday's win, the Raptors sit in third place in the Eastern Conference with a 30-14 record.
The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.