2016 NBA Draft Scouting Report: Pascal Siakam

Dec 23, 2015; Waco, TX, USA; New Mexico State Aggies forward Pascal Siakam (43) shoots over Baylor Bears forward Rico Gathers (2) during the first half at Ferrell Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 23, 2015; Waco, TX, USA; New Mexico State Aggies forward Pascal Siakam (43) shoots over Baylor Bears forward Rico Gathers (2) during the first half at Ferrell Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /

New Mexico State Sophomore Pascal Siakam represents a lot of what the NBA is looking for in their big men.

The league is trending more and more towards players who have the versatility to guard multiple positions and allow them to employ varying strategies schematically. Siakam is the type of player who allows you to play both small and big, fast and slow, and throw out multiple different looks defensively.

A native of Cameroon, Siakam was discovered at a Basketball Without Borders camp, much like plenty of young overseas players. He moved to the states at age 16, eventually winding up at New Mexico State. In his two years in college, Siakam put up monster statistics, averaging 20.3 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks per game his final season.

The big question with Siakam will be whether that type of production is legit or if his competition, or lack thereof, at a mid major school allowed Siakam to dominate against inferior big men.


Siakam is always easy to point out on film because of his impressive physique. He measured 6-10 with a 7-3 wingspan at the NBA Draft combine while also weighing 227 pounds. On top of that, Siakam glides up and down the floor and flies around on defensive like a perimeter player.

Siakam has high upside on both ends, but he will be able to bring the most contribution on the defensive end. His length and agility helped him swat shots at the rim and wreak havoc in passing lanes. His 2.2 blocks per game is second amongst all players in the draft and his 1.0 steals per game ranked in the top 20.

Siakam’s physical attributes lead to a lot of impressive plays, like this one where he helps on the drive and recovers back to send the shot into the stands.

He has real potential to switch out and guard perimeter players thanks to his quick feet.

This is the type of player who can give a coach a lot of freedom to try different things on defense. Having someone who can block shots at the rim and switch out to guard guys on the perimeter is very rare.

Obviously Siakam is a monster on the boards. He averaged 11.8 per game, third most in the draft, grabbing four offensive rebounds per game, the highest of any prospect in this year’s draft. His length and high motor leads to impressive finishes on the offensive glass from time to time.

Offensively, Siakam does surprisingly well attacking close outs and getting to the rim. Most big men don’t have the fluidity to catch, shot fake, and get to the rim like this.

This type of skill is coveted for a big man. Most guards and wings can do this to get in the lane and create an advantage. The more players you have like that on the floor, the more dangerous you can become, which is why it is a premium to have a big man who can do it.


There are times where you watch Siakam and wonder why he isn’t being considered as a first round talent. Then there are other times you watch him and can see why he is going to be a project.

His length helps him rack up the blocks and steals, but he gambles a decent amount as well. If he isn’t closing out and blocking a shot, he doesn’t know how to stop his body, chop his feet, and get a high hand up. He just runs right through it.

His overall awareness on defense is an issue as well. He often hangs out in the paint to wait for a block, which can sometimes lead to him losing his man completely.

Whoever drafts Siakam is getting a player who will need to be coached up on the nuances of defense and the little intricacies — like the proper way to close out — for him to completely realize his defensive potential.

His touch around the rim outside of a dunk has a lot of questions as well. His jump shot has some really nice touch to it, which is why it is puzzling as to why he misses some point blank shots at the rim sometimes.

It is unclear if Siakam will be able to handle the increased physicality in the NBA. New Mexico State faced a couple teams in St. Mary’s, Baylor, and UC Irvine that have big-bodied, tough, post players that he had to defend. He mainly struggled to get to his spots in the post and ended up shooting rough jump hooks because of it. His total numbers ended up being impressive, but his 9-23 shooting against St. Mary’s, 9-17 against Baylor, and 9-18 against UC Irvine is underwhelming for a player who shoots most of his shots in the paint.

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This is the area that makes Siakam most tantalizing as a prospect and worth a flyer in the second round.

For the most, his feel for the game isn’t very good but there is room for growth. He was New Mexico State’s clear best player, so he wasn’t asked to pass much. He is a willing screener and plays hard, and if he is on a team where he isn’t a featured option, there is potential for him to make smart plays reading help and moving the ball.

Another enticing part of Siakam’s game is his long term outlook as a floor spacer. He only attempted 20 total threes this last year, but he was pretty automatic from the elbows, where he shot 47.4 percent, according to Synergy Sports. He wasn’t used much in pick and pop situations, something he can be a real threat with.

His stroke is very nice for a big man and it is easy to see him potentially being a Serge Ibaka type of player if he can stretch it out to the three point line and get to be automatic from the corners like Ibaka is.


It is hard to tell how good Siakam is going to be. It is always tempting to draft players with his physical measurements but if they don’t develop their skills the right way, they could be a wasted pick. Siakam plays hard on both ends, so at the very least you are going to get a player who can crash the boards and make some highlight plays on defense. If the rest of his game rounds out well, he could be the rare floor spacing power forward who can switch and guard multiple positions. He’s definitely worth a second round pick and is a prime candidate to be stashed in the D-League for a season or two. The Pelicans — who unfortunately do not have a D-League team — could be a prime candidate to take him with one of their two second round picks, so I would put his ceiling at No. 39 on draft night.