The next steps in Pascal Siakam's development

Amit Mann is joined by Samson Folk of Raptors Republic to discuss his piece, "Pascal Siakam and Divergent Progression" and the next steps in his development. Listen to the full episode on the Raptors Over Everything podcast feed.

Video Transcript

- --the outcome, with a facial.

- How much confidence does Nick Nurse have in this young man?

- Oh, Spicy, pay.

- A blow by, explosiveness. Hello.

- Pascal, changing direction, driving left. Good.

- Bang, Pascal Siakam.

AMIT MANN: As we talk about him and his growth, he is kind of like DeMar, in a way, where you're kind of wondering, like, after he comes after an offseason, like what skills has he developed? And what is he going to show us this season?

What are some areas that you'd like to see him develop this season, going forward, that's going to help him become an even better player?

SAMSON FOLK: OK, well there's two big things for me. The first one is he's above the break, shooting from 3. He's been a good 3-point shooter for-- well, he's been a good corner shooter for-- this is his fourth year now. He can shoot 3s from the corner. But the thing is, like, Pascal Siakam, by proxy of his role in the offense, is not going to shoot corner 3s. He just isn't.

AMIT MANN: No.

SAMSON FOLK: He has to be above-- yeah, he has to be above the break to initiate offense, or to be a release valve if the offense doesn't go well, or for whatever reason, right? Like, he'll be above the break. Even Gary Trent Jr is above the break because some players, like Precious or Cam, can provide a smidge of spacing in the corner, just because corner shots are something defenses always pay attention to.

But if you put them above the break, their defenders are just going to sink down into the paint. If Gary Trent Jr is above the break, the defender can't sink in. So Pascal is not positioned in the corner. So above the break shooting from 3, yes. He basically had one year where he shot it well above the break. And that was his all-NBA year. Every other year, he hasn't shot it well above the break. I still think that's in a proven situation.

And then the second thing is jump stops in the lane. You know, actually, Scottie Barnes is tremendous at jump stops in the lane. Scottie Barnes, when he goes into isolation, he does his gather to get into the middle of the floor. He jump stops really well.

Pascal Siakam jump passes. And he jumped passes long passes. And that's a lot of his turnovers, are when he leaves his feet. And a lot of times, he'll be kind of off-balance in air. There's not a lot of strength there. You can't put a lot of zip on the pass. And, since you leave your feet, guys get to start making that read as defenders to jump the passing lane.

If he goes to a jump stop, that means that he'll have more time in the paint. It means that he can use his footwork afterwards. And it means that there's usually a bounce pass and just the regular pass available to you. Nobody bounce passes in air. It just makes no sense.

And so you create more angles when you jumps stop in the lane. I sound like a coach. Because if anybody's played basketball, your coach told you to do the jump stop in the lane. Like, yeah, you have so many options now. You know, make sure your pivot's correct, all that kind of stuff.

AMIT MANN: Don't leave your feet for a pass.

SAMSON FOLK: Yeah, but Pascal would really benefit from that, especially since he'll be able to gather and then go up for a layup, depending on how the defense reacts. Or, you know, there will be-- to use the term you love so much, a bevy of passing options for him.

So above the break shooting and then jump stops in the lane a little bit more often I think will really, really help his growth as a playmaker. And even maybe, like, a push shot guy, right? Because you get there, the defense reacts, maybe they drop a little lower, maybe they think you're going to pass. You just pop up a little push shot.

- Yeah.

SAMSON FOLK: Ja Morant does it all the time. So yeah, Pascal can be Jo Morant, let's say.

AMIT MANN: He hit a couple of quick shots against the Bucs the other day. I was very surprised.

SAMSON FOLK: Oh yeah, yep, mm-hmm.

AMIT MANN: Yeah, it was very good. I agree with everything that you said. If we're going to get, like, really nitpicky, some off the dribble 3s would be really nice. That is, like, yes, obviously that would be very cool. But I mean, that's what we're talking about, how can Pascal develop well? Off the dribble 3s, that's something that a lot of the best offensive players in the NBA, they have that skill set.

And so if he adds that, as we've seen with him and also with a player even like Joel Embiid and how the Raptors guard him, like, the first thing you want to do is you want to get them as far away from the basket as possible. And then after that, you can set your defense. You have players like Fred and OG just kind of poking away at you.

The more Pascal will be able to create offense further away from the basket is going to help him. Finishing around the basket, you kind of mentioned Scottie Barnes a little bit. And I think that Scottie is actually a very good finisher around the basket. He just has that floating shot that-- kind of unheralded, that he's able to do that.

But I think Pascal, sometimes with his push shots, his floaters, his hook shots, they're kind of flat at times. Who am I to be saying this, obviously?

But, you know, the eye test is kind of there that he does hit from the rim quite a bit and also there is an arc on it. And I think that probably comes with comfort, kind of a steadiness in the lane and being comfortable with-- even like a jump stop, right? Is that if you set your feet, you're able to go up. You'll probably have a better chance of not just hitting the shot, but also getting a bit more arc on it.

And then his handle which, again, we're talking about the ceiling of Pascal Siakam. The more he continues to hone in on his handle and making that a bigger asset in his offense, it's going to help his game, like when he's got bigger players on him. If he doesn't always have to use his speed to get past him, maybe it's more of his hand, it's going to kind of just make him age gracefully.

That play late in the Bucs game where Khris Middleton was kind of picking them up half court, and I don't think the Raptors should have necessarily given Pascal Siakam the ball at half court to create from that space. Because I don't think he's necessarily there yet. But if he's able to do that, he's able to handle that kind of pressure, then it's going to make him a much, much better player.

His handle has improved quite a bit. But that's something that I think every player wants to probably hone in on. OG Anunoby, he's got obviously some space to get better there. And Pascal is no different. Yeah.

SAMSON FOLK: That's a great point you bring up, leaving him above the break. Below or near half court by the way. Because that handle being limited means that if he does get the burst by his guy, somebody is going to pinch in, he has to pick up the ball sooner, which means he's going to pass out of the air. Or he might get [INAUDIBLE] Or he's going to be in a bad position to create offense, right?

AMIT MANN: Yeah.

SAMSON FOLK: Like, they're going to reset. And especially against Milwaukee, down the end of that game, they kept just being like, OK, isolate from out there. Like, this is not an advantage. This is not good. Why are we doing this?

Give him the ball at the 45 extended if you're going to do that. But, yeah.

AMIT MANN: Exactly.

SAMSON FOLK: They were playing not to lose.

AMIT MANN: He was cooking Khris Middleton-- sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt you. But, like, he was cooking Khris Middleton from that space, like all game. Khris had no chance. But you put him, you know, what, like 40 feet away from the basket, like yeah, Khris Middleton now has a chance. Now you're playing into his hands. Khris Middleton is a good defender.

But in that situation, now Pascal is vulnerable. Let's make him confident in where he is on the space of the court, especially in that situation. That's why LeBron, Bradley Beal, they dictate where they're going to get the ball at the end of the game, right? Because they want to get to their spot. And they want to hit their shot.

It's actually been cool seeing how DeMar DeRozan has grown in this area, right? He's been very open about where he likes to get the ball, and also how he's worked on being more confident on every spot on the court, or at the very least, when he gets to the free throw line extended, above the break, around the 45, around the baseline, he's like, all right, this is what I'm going to do. I'm going to get to my spot. It doesn't even matter who's in front of me, right? Because I've done this so many times, this particular shot, there's no way I'm going to miss it.

And that's what you want to give your best offensive player or the person you're going to give the ball at the end of a game. You want them to be in a spot where they're like, I've done this so many times, and their confidence is elevated because they know they can hit the shot.

Sorry. You touched on something that was interesting, so I wanted to make sure I got that in there.

SAMSON FOLK: Oh, yeah, definitely.

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