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Is Pascal Siakam the 3rd best power forward in the East?

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A few seasons ago, Pascal Siakam was dubbed one of the best at his position in the NBA. Since the NBA bubble in 2020, the 27-year-old's talent has been questioned. This season is a different story, though. Siakam has shown he's back to his All-Star form and in the conversation as one of the best power forwards in the league.

Video Transcript

AMIT MANN: Uh, next question. True or false, Pascal Siakam is the third-best power forward in the East right now? So I say third because first and second, in whatever order you want to do it, are Giannis and KD. Over his past 10 games, just so everyone knows, Pascal, he's averaging 24 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, 48% from the field, and 35% from 3.

Contenders, I guess you could say Jayson Tatum, Domantas Sabonis-- those are a few guys to keep in mind. But, Yasmin, I pose the question to you. Is he the third-best power forward in the Eastern Conference?

YASMIN DUALE: Um, when you list those names, yeah. Yeah, he's ahead of Julius Randle. He's ahead of Tatum--

AMIT MANN: I didn't even--

YASMIN DUALE: [INAUDIBLE].

AMIT MANN: --put Randle in there, but yeah.

YASMIN DUALE: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I was just saying the other day, it's a really bad season for the better-than-Pascal crew. I feel like the season has been a return to reality for a lot of them.

We've seen him turn a corner where he has so many counters to when things are taken away from him. If you take away his finishing ability, he's become so skilled at creating shots for others. Like, when I think of playmaking power forwards, there's only Giannis that's better than him that I can think of. Like, you don't have KD doing that. You don't-- there are so many players you don't have doing that.

He's not getting the attention he needs right now for it because I feel like people still have that bad taste in their mouth from the publicity of his poor season--

AMIT MANN: Yeah.

YASMIN DUALE: --and his poor postseasons of the past. But we saw how quickly narratives can change for players. We saw how it changed for DeMar DeRozan. It seemed like there was no returning at some points for DeMar from-- you know, I feel like he reached a point of no return. But he is America's sweetheart right now.

AMIT MANN: Oh, yeah.

YASMIN DUALE: And, you know, who knows? I feel like Pascal is just one good streak away from re-establishing himself as among the better power forwards. But his 2-point finishing is the best of his career. His 3-point is hovering near league average now. His playmaking might be the best on the team.

But, like, Fred averages more assists, but I feel like they are continuously running plays through Pascal, through Scottie. And he might be the best playmaker on the team, arguably. So, when you factor all these things, yeah, I'd say he's the third-best power forward on the team. I'm comfortable with that ranking.

AMIT MANN: In the Eastern Conference, right?

YASMIN DUALE: And he's not gonna be a all-star. So, you know, I guess I can just tell myself he didn't play as many games as maybe he should have to establish his case. But, yeah, the recent push, the play of the last-- I won't say-- since his return from COVID, perhaps it was, has just been outrageous. It's one of the better streaks of his career.

He's been outshone by Fred playing the best basketball in the NBA. I feel like if his co-star wasn't doing that, we'd be talking about it more.

AMIT MANN: Yeah.

YASMIN DUALE: Like, he'll have like a 27-point, near triple-double game, and then Freddie will be there with his, like, 37-point night or something. So it's been tough. But, you know, I feel like Pascal is not a stats hunter in the least. I think he has those role player roots which really humble him in the offense.

He's not always trying to impose his will. Sometimes he'll even, like, kind of disappear when I want him repeatedly running plays because he's been good for an entire quarter or something. And I think that's what's kept him so steady is that he just knows how to pick his spots. If Fred's gonna be the lead scorer on the team, so be it. You know, the ultimate goal is to win games.

AMIT MANN: Yeah. It kind of sounds like DeMar and Kyle a little bit.

YASMIN DUALE: Yes.

AMIT MANN: You know, let's just win games. Do whatever needs to be done.

YASMIN DUALE: Yeah.

AMIT MANN: Right? You got Fred and Pascal. They were under the tutelage of those two players and--

YASMIN DUALE: Not a bad transition. We're very lucky.

AMIT MANN: Hey, I tweeted this yesterday. I'm saying, like, let's just appreciate this for a second. These are two very, very good players-- unselfish, extremely talented, putting the team first. They kind of wrap the identity of the Raptors around very well. They are exactly what Masai and Bobby and Nick want in their star players.

So those are hard to find. Like, those are really hard players to find, to find players that really are the identity of your franchise and who you want to emulate. And the Raptors found that. And I think, with him, just going back to the question, is he the third-best power forward? I think there's definitely a case to be made for it.

I mean, we kind of know what Sabonis is. He's having a great season, you know, 20 and 12, five assists. I can't believe he only makes $18 million a year. I didn't really realize that. I saw that stat a little while ago when the whole, like, you know, Pacers fire sale came up. Then I kind of forgot about it.

I was like, oh, wait. He's very underpaid. That's definitely a player-- 20, 12, and five assists? That's a player who should be making a lot more money. So his agent-- not good, not good.

And then, Tatum, I mean, his 3-point shooting has, like, really fallen off a cliff. He's, like, obviously--

YASMIN DUALE: From his standards, yeah.

AMIT MANN: --23 years old. Yeah, yeah, exactly, his standards.

YASMIN DUALE: Yeah.

AMIT MANN: And, I mean, he's 23 years old. He's gonna get better. He seems like he's still growing, apparently, all this stuff. Like, he is absolutely probably the player with a better ceiling. But, this season, with where each player is, I think you can definitely say that, you know, Pascal is the third-best power forward in the NBA. And--

YASMIN DUALE: Yeah.

AMIT MANN: --I agree with everything that you said. And I think that has to be appreciated. When does he get his respect? Here's a new true and false question for you. Pascal Siakam will hit a game-winner this year.

YASMIN DUALE: You know, I'm not-- I don't know. It's very hard to predict that. I feel like he deserves to. But I don't think people realize how-- there's this notion that, oh, he's always missing the game-winners in games. But I don't think people realize how rare it is for a player to hit game-winners.

Most players are missing 90% of their game-winning attempts in the final few minutes. If that was the case, we'd have game-winners from-- like, we'd have what happened with DeMar DeRozan with his back-to-back game-winners on a night-to-night basis for a lot of teams and a lot of players. But that's not the case. DeMar made history. That's why it was such a huge deal because it's not the norm at all.

So, you know, what's interesting is that he's missed his game-winners. But he's among the better crunch time offensive players in the NBA. I think he's, like, top 20 or something.

He does not become uncharacteristic in the clutch. He's still taking the same shots, doing the same thing. It's very rare to see him make a mistake. I think last season we saw mistakes, genuine mistakes. We saw, like, I remember double dribbles, the double dribble versus the Knicks.

AMIT MANN: Oh.

YASMIN DUALE: Yeah, we saw genuine mistakes. We saw blocked shots and stuff. That hasn't been the case this season. So I think it's coming. I think he's been focusing on getting everything right.

And, if he doesn't-- if he's not too hard-- I feel like he mentioned this, that he's trying not to be too hard on himself on a night-to-night basis because that's when you get in your head. You start to become your biggest critic. So, if he just starts trusting his abilities, I don't see why not. If he's making such a great percentage of his mid-range shots and his 2's, of course they're gonna go in in the final few minutes-- sorry, few seconds-- eventually.

So, hopefully, the Raptors are not in that situation where they need a game-winner to win a game. That would be not preferable.

AMIT MANN: Yeah.

YASMIN DUALE: But, yeah, like, he's a player that I've never had issues with in the clutch. The last few years, he's been, like, a guy you need on the court in the final few seconds, him and Fred.

But, yeah, I'd rather the Raptors do what they've been doing this season, which is kind of do, like, a closing by committee kind of thing. Everyone go for the rebound. Everyone try and make that good shot. Try and create that great shot. So, yeah, he deserves to hit a game-winner this season.

AMIT MANN: I was gonna say exactly that. Like, I don't want to answer this question. I'm gonna say true because I don't want to say false, because I want this for him. There are so many people--

YASMIN DUALE: Yeah.

AMIT MANN: --who are so critical of him, unfairly. I said game-winner, but I kind of meant, like-- I should have said, like, go-ahead basket late in the game or something like that because that's kind of where people want him to be is that he's always missing those shots, they say. Like, that shot last night against DeAndre Ayton-- very makeable shot. It didn't go in.

YASMIN DUALE: Yeah.

AMIT MANN: It is what it is. But people look at that like, oh, here he goes again. Here, Pascal--

YASMIN DUALE: Yeah.

AMIT MANN: --missing shots. But it was a good shot, right? And it was--

YASMIN DUALE: Yeah.

AMIT MANN: --in the flow of the offense. That's a spot on the court that he's very comfortable at now, maybe not so much last season. But, you know, the misses last year-- I could think about that Timberwolves one where he missed a layup, and I was like, bro, what is going on?

YASMIN DUALE: Yeah, that was unchar-- he had floaters blocked by Ayton--

AMIT MANN: Yeah.

YASMIN DUALE: --versus the Suns last season as well.

AMIT MANN: Yeah.

YASMIN DUALE: If it's just missing a shot, you know, it's short or it's long or if it's in and out, then that happens to the best of them.

AMIT MANN: Sure.

YASMIN DUALE: But I think what we should be watching for is that he's creating these looks and that they're clean--

AMIT MANN: Exactly.

YASMIN DUALE: --and that he's making the correct decision. Is he trying to go over three people, or is he kicking it out to the correct player? So--

AMIT MANN: Yes.

YASMIN DUALE: --yeah, that's, I think, how we should be watching it.

AMIT MANN: It came up again in that Bucks game where he got blocked by Bobby Portis when he was driving to the bucket. Again, that was late in the game, but it was a good attempt. And, sometimes, it is OK to give credit to the other team, saying, oh, look, insert here made a nice play, because those will happen.

Bobby Portis is now a championship player. He can execute in the crunch time, and he's obviously very athletic. He can make things happen. So that's gonna happen as well.

So let's just keep that in mind when evaluating Pascal Siakam in crunch time. He's making the right plays, like Yasmin said. So that is what you ask for.

He's not shying away from the moment. He's making good reads. And, eventually, I'm sure one of these will go in. And I just hope it happens sooner than later because [INAUDIBLE] get off his back. But, also, now he doesn't care about that. And that's important, too. You cannot care about making or missing those shots, because there's--

YASMIN DUALE: Yeah.

AMIT MANN: --a new one coming on very shortly. And OG--

YASMIN DUALE: Yeah.

AMIT MANN: --kind of has that mentality already, bless his heart, you know, [INAUDIBLE] shoot to miss.

YASMIN DUALE: OG almost has--

AMIT MANN: [INAUDIBLE]?

YASMIN DUALE: --too much of that mentality. Like, his shot selection has been very interesting lately. But, you know, he's young. He's experimental.

AMIT MANN: Yeah.

YASMIN DUALE: It's been kind of funny seeing him play lately.

AMIT MANN: I feel like there are times where he's kind of-- he's got himself into a mode now where he's like, I haven't shot in a while. So I'm gonna take this guy one-on-one.

YASMIN DUALE: Yeah, I'm gonna force something.

AMIT MANN: Yeah, I'm like, I'm not sure if you're there yet, OG. You're very good. You're very talented. And I think there are spots on the court, certain matchups, where you should definitely be given the ball.

Because of yesterday, because of circumstances-- no Scottie, no Gary Trent-- he was given more shots, and he should be. He had an overall-- he had a decent game. But--

YASMIN DUALE: Yeah.

AMIT MANN: --yeah, maybe OG's got to roll it back just a little bit on some possessions because when it goes ugly, man, it goes ugly. Ug--

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