The Toronto Raptors are just days away from kicking off the 2019-2020 season and the team’s new number one player, Pascal Siakam, says he’s excited about his new role.

Siakam, who had a breakout season last year averaging 16.9 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game, spoke to Global News on Thursday night at the Right to Play gala where he was honoured with the Athlete Hero Award.

With Kawhi Leonard opting to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers in the off-season, Siakam, coming off his NBA’s Most Improved Player of the Year award, said he doesn’t see shouldering much of the weight of the team as pressure.

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“It’s something that I love to do and I take pleasure playing the game of basketball. It’s just an exciting year and a lot of opportunities for a lot of us with a lot of young guys stepping into new roles,” he said.

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Siakam said he also likes the team’s chances, adding that they’re used to being the underdogs and believes they have the right balance which will help the team go far.

“I like where we are. We have a really good group of guys and I think we have a chance to fight for something. Obviously we know the talent is there and the veteran leadership is there, so we have everything that we need.”

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Siakam also addressed the possibility of signing a contract extension before the Monday deadline with reports swirling that it’s almost a certainty that the forward will ink a new deal.

While Siakam wouldn’t say for sure that he would sign a new deal before Monday, he expressed his love for Toronto being an incentive to stay.

“Obviously people that know me know how I feel about Toronto and how I feel about being here so I’m excited even to have the opportunity to even sign something like that,” he said. “So we’re just gonna leave that to my team and the Raptors to figure it out.

“But it’s no secret I love being here.”

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The defending NBA champions will kick off their new season Tuesday night when they host the New Orleans Pelicans at Scotiabank Arena. The team will receive their rings and drop their championship banner ahead of the game.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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