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The final starting spot in the East could go to a number of players.
Domantas Sabonis (18.0 points, 13.0 rebounds, 4.4 assists) has the Indiana Pacers at 28-15 with no Victor Oladipo. The Celtics’ Jayson Tatum (21.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists) is fulfilling his star potential for a 28-14 team. Jimmy Butler’s Miami Heat are second in the East at 30-13, and the 30-year-old wing is averaging 20.2 points and a career-high 7.0 rebounds and 6.4 assists.
While all three can make a claim, they will find it tough to overcome the votes Siakam has received from fans. He is currently second to Antetokounmpo, a testament to how impressive his first season as a leading man for the Toronto Raptors has been.
Instead of crumbling under the pressure of filling Kawhi Leonard’s shoes as the team’s focal point after he signed a four-year, $129.9 million max contract before the season, Siakam has been one of the league’s best surprises.
His stats were expected to improve given the added usage, but 23.8 points (sixth-highest in the East), 7.4 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.0 blocks per game with a 37.8 three-point percentage go above and beyond what most would have imagined.
Even more impressive is the Raptors’ record.
After finishing second in the East standings a year ago, Toronto could once again earn the No. 2 seed even after losing Leonard and Danny Green in free agency. Its 29-14 mark is in part due to Siakam’s play. He’s stepped up as an offensive leader when the team needed him to do so.
But one factor that could push Butler above Siakam in voting by players and media? Games played. Butler has suited up in 88.1 percent of Miami’s games, compared to 73.8 percent for Siakam with the Raptors.