‘Stay locked into the work’: Pascal Siakam on earning minutes as a young player
Raptors forward Pascal Siakam discusses how he earned minutes with Toronto in his first few years in the NBA and how the team has shown a resiliency through the struggles.
- Now, your consistent message this season, kind of in the media and whatnot, has been just kind of focusing on the work, hunkering down, not making excuses for your guys, and stuff like that. Are you starting to see, in the game, some-- like, you guys have been practicing at times, and stuff like that. Are you starting to see some of the results of that, just really hunkering down and focusing on the work, in the games.
PASCAL SIAKAM: Yeah, I think we're playing good basketball, we're playing together. And yeah, we've just got to keep continuing to get better. Again, it's a long season. Obviously, it's a stretch right here that we have. So we got to just continue to stay together and work hard. And again, the rest is going to take care of itself.
- Is that kind of how you guys want the culture to be defined here, as a blue-collar, hard-working place? That's kind of what it has been in the past few years. But is that kind of what--
PASCAL SIAKAM: It's not that? You don't think people work hard here?
- Oh, of course. But I'm just wondering, like, is that how you would define the culture?
PASCAL SIAKAM: I mean, I think it's always been like that. That's who I am.
PASCAL SIAKAM: And I felt like, you know, like I try to show that every day. And I hope that we all have that. And I think that's what's been happening here.
- Did you--
- Pascal, Nick was saying that with a front court of, like, you, Scottie, and Thad, that when those catch-and-shoot opportunities present themselves, he wants you guys to take them. He wants to, like, maintain that spacing threat. Is that something that you guys have spoken about? Is that something that you're conscious of?
PASCAL SIAKAM: He said that?
PASCAL SIAKAM: Yeah. Yeah, so yeah.
- But has it been a conversation between you guys?
PASCAL SIAKAM: I mean, I just think that it's always been like that, you know? I think our team is just always about confidence, taking the shots that's there. And I don't think it's changed.
- Back when you were very early in your career, you didn't always know what your role would be, where your minutes would come from. But you see it happens to-- every team's got guys like that.
PASCAL SIAKAM: Right.
- How hard a job is that?
PASCAL SIAKAM: No, it's tough, but it's part of the job. I like that you said job. So it's part of it. You've got to just figure it out and find your way, stay locked in, into the work.
And again, like, controlling things you can control, which is every day, coming in and putting the work in, and just waiting for that opportunity. And I think that for most people that do that, it always comes. And when the opportunity comes, you got to just kind of, like, take it, and yeah.
- And, like, the challenge of being ready, being ready, but then when a chance comes, to not make too much of it--
PASCAL SIAKAM: Right, right.
- --kind of put too much pressure on yourself.
PASCAL SIAKAM: Yeah, yeah.
- That's got to be a trip, too.
PASCAL SIAKAM: Yeah, man, it's basketball at the end of the day. You've just got to trust your instincts and things that you've done. I mean, for most people, they've done their whole life. It's how you do that when the time comes, and when you have your opportunity.
And I just think that also, just doing the little things, like, that helps also. Because again, you're going to miss shots. You're going to do whatever. But you can't blow coverages. And especially when you have a short leash, you got to be able to focus on the little parts of the game.
And I think most of the time, you probably will be in the game if you do that.
- That last play last night, they're doubling you constantly down the stretch. Are you anticipating that and waiting for the pass to Gary? Or what are you thinking about as that play develops?
PASCAL SIAKAM: I'm just playing, just play basketball off instinct, imagination. Whatever comes, make the right play.
- What does it do for you guys having multiple guys who you can run that same action with, whether it's Fred when he's here, or Gary, or other combinations?
PASCAL SIAKAM: Yeah, again, that's why we have the personnel. And we're just trying to take advantage of what we have and make the right plays at the end of the game.
- There was a point in the season where you guys were losing a lot. And who would have been-- I don't know if "easy to give up" is the right word, but some teams might have. Like, are you seeing the resiliency in this team, the fact that you just continue to fight and--
PASCAL SIAKAM: I think-- yeah, I think that's who we are. We've got to continue to fight. And we have no choice.
We had a lot of opportunities. Some didn't bounce our way. And we just got to keep going because like I always say, like, 80% don't care. 20% of that is you.
So we just got to figure out it's on us. And nobody's going to care for us, nobody's going to feel sorry for us. We've got to figure it out on our own. And I think we're doing a good job of just continuing to fight and putting ourselves in the position to be successful.
- It looks like Dowtin's going to get an opportunity here. What have you seen from him, and his level of professionalism, and how he's prepared?
PASCAL SIAKAM: Yeah, no, yeah, yeah, I like the way he plays. I like his attitude. He's a good guy to be around. He seems focused.
He's putting the work in every day. And again, he's been-- obviously, he hasn't played in the NBA like that. But he's been around the league a little bit, so he knows what it takes. And I'm just glad that when he gets the opportunity, he comes in and plays some defense, make the right plays. That's really all you can ask for.
- What do you see in his defense?
PASCAL SIAKAM: I mean, he still can't guard me. But I feel like-- no, it's good. I think he's good. Especially with some of those guards that are quick, he can move his feet. He can play good defense. And I just think that, yeah, when he's focused, he can do that for us, disrupt a little bit of offense.
- We can just get it on the record that nobody on this team can guard you, if you want.
PASCAL SIAKAM: Yeah, for sure. Yeah, yeah.
- Save you some time next time.
- Thanks, Pascal.
- Thanks, Pascal.
- Thanks, Pascal.