What Pascal Siakam learned from Kawhi Leonard

Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam discusses OG Anunoby's defence and what it meant to receive MVP chants from the crowd.

Video Transcript

- What's on your head, Pascal?

PASCAL SIAKAM: Huh?

- On your head.

PASCAL SIAKAM: What do you mean?

[LAUGHTER]

I don't understand the question.

- You've got a thing your head. Can't hear anything.

PASCAL SIAKAM: Huh?

- You've got a thing on your head. You can't hear anything.

PASCAL SIAKAM: Nah, I can hear everything.

- What's this costume?

PASCAL SIAKAM: I don't think it's a costume. It's just a fit, yeah.

- You get it from Gary?

PASCAL SIAKAM: Huh?

- Did you get it from Gary Trent, Jr.?

PASCAL SIAKAM: Oh, Gary wore that before? Yeah, Gary can-- yeah, I can believe that.

- Is it Prada?

PASCAL SIAKAM: Nah. Definitely-- I mean, Gary's stuff are Prada. Nah, I'm cheap. I don't have Prada.

- Pascal, the crowd shouting MVP as you're on the free throw line tonight, how does that make you feel after another strong game?

PASCAL SIAKAM: Yeah, another day, another night, trying to get better, and focusing on the plan I had, and things that I have in mind, and continue to do everything that I can for the team to win. And yeah, like, that's literally what I have in mind, nothing else. Obviously, it's appreciated. But like, I'm focused on just continuing to be the best that I can be for my team to win, and yeah, just going out there every single night and trying to win the game, so.

- Pascal, I know you had more free throws in a game than you've had in all the season. Was that plan the plan of attack from the very start, to get to the rim and get--

PASCAL SIAKAM: I mean, I try to do that every night. Today, it was good. I felt good. It was amazing. Yeah, now I know how some of those guys feel. So yeah, it felt good, man. But yeah, I worked on it a lot, just continuing to be aggressive, finding angles, and trying to manipulate the defense and do different things.

Yeah, like, that was an objective for me, for myself, just going in there into the season, finding ways to get to the free throw line. Obviously, I have to convert it when I get there. But the first thing is to get there. Yeah, see, Doug, you didn't have to do all that.

But yeah, no, I'm-- I feel like the guys that get to the next level, they do that at a high level. So I want to be able to do that.

- I know you and Scottie both put a lot of work into your jumpers this summer. And the results are showing early in the season. I know it's still early, but how much do you think that's going to open things up not only for you and for Scottie, but for the team to be shooting the ball the way you have--

PASCAL SIAKAM: Yeah, we have to make 3's. And I think that's where the game is going. And I think the way we play the game, it's like if guys can step up to get to our bodies, then that's easy, easy, easy baskets, you know? So I think the more efficient we are and the more we actually take those 3's, the better we are as a team. I believe that. And yeah, Coach is always on me about it. And yeah, I think if I make 3's at a high clip, yeah, it's going to be tough.

- Scottie hit you for one or two buckets right under the rim, passed over the defense. He just threw a variety of passes tonight. Do you see his development as a playmaker on display this year?

PASCAL SIAKAM: I think he's always been a playmaker. I feel like he wants to pass the basketball. He wants to-- obviously we know all these little fancy passes. But he's a willing passer. And he has that-- he has that ability. So I don't see why not.

- At least with that two-handed outlet he threw you that you got the free throws on.

PASCAL SIAKAM: Well, he was mad at me because I didn't get the layup, or I didn't try to shoot the layup. I mean, I thought Gary was open. But obviously, I got the rebound, which is still a win-win, anyway. But--

- Why, because he didn't get the assist?

PASCAL SIAKAM: No, no, he wasn't mad. But he was just like, you've got to-- I had a layup. But you know-- so I felt like-- yeah, but that was a good pass. Yeah, he can do that in his sleep, though.

- Hey, what's it say about guys like Khem and Malachi who don't play for days and days, and then tonight give you six or seven good minutes in a row when you need 'em, the sort of stay ready guys?

PASCAL SIAKAM: Yeah.

- What does that say about them, and how do you guys appreciate what they do?

PASCAL SIAKAM: Yeah, no, I think it's important. And we always on these guys. We see Malachi every day, man. Like, I come in every day, I see him.

He's in the gym working before games, after games. Like, he's trying to get ready, stay ready, you know? And we try to encourage him to do so, and just wait for the opportunity.

Like, this is the league. It's a long season. And the more ready you are, you're going to get your opportunity once in a while. And you have to be able to take advantage of it. So yeah, good for those guys to come in and help us. I think we're going to need every one that we can get.

- I know it's, like, not that much of a sample size. But what have you noticed in terms of the step that OG has taken defensively?

PASCAL SIAKAM: Yeah, nah, I think he was special tonight on defense. And I think that when he has that energy, like, he can be one of those guys that-- Defensive Player of the Year kind of guy, you know? Like, I think he has that ability.

And it's just a matter of him doing it, to be honest. And I always try to encourage him. His IQ on defense, his reads, when he's locked in, like, you can see it. He's-- every deflection, every-- he always feels like he can get the ball, you know, or the ball just finds him.

So like, yeah, I try to just tell him like, man, you're special in that sense. And if you really apply yourself into it every single night, he can definitely be a nightmare for a lot of offensive players in the league.

- You said just another day to the MVP chants and stuff like that. Is that-- have you always had that approach playing basketball, that even-keel mentality on the court, off the court? Or is this part of a development as a star to more attention and stuff like that?

PASCAL SIAKAM: I think you learn. Obviously, I had a great example of that with Kawhi, someone that just didn't really-- like, nothing really fazed him. He was just focused on his goals. And his goals was just winning. And it didn't matter if he shot, you know, bad or whatever, or if he had a great game. Like, he had the same mentality.

But also for me, just personally going through stuff, I understand that again, things come and go. Like, I'm not attached to it. I'm attached to the process of it. I'm attached to coming in every single day, working hard, trying to be the best player that I can be, and no matter the results, just having the same mentality and going at it every day.

And when you go through a lot, and there's a lot of ups and downs, you understand that. Again, I'm me at the end of the day. Like, if I go out there and I have 0 points, I'm me. And if I go out there and I have 50 points, I'm still me. And as long as I put the work in every day, I'm OK with the results, like, either way.

- Pascal, when Christian's in the game, do you feel like when you guys are defending on the perimeter, that you guys can be even more aggressive because of how he can protect the rim?

PASCAL SIAKAM: Yeah, no, of course. I don't know who asked me that, but it was like, oh, what's the difference with Christian in the game? It's like, he's just tall. Like, he's just there.

I think that we play a lot of teams, and we have those kind of guys out there that you beat your defender, and they're just in the way. And I think that he can be that because he got that ability. And he definitely helps us.

And when he's out there on the floor-- like, again, I try to tell him to stay out of foul trouble. Maybe not the best person to say that because I-- sometimes, I foul, too. But just, like, just stay solid.

Like, sometimes just you being there makes a big difference. I know you want to make a play. But most of the time, you don't need that, really.

But he's definitely going to continue to grow. Like, I'm on him a lot. Everyone is on him, making sure that he stays focused. But yeah, he's a huge difference for us when he plays and he's focused.

- Pascal, when you communicate with him, do you find that he's quick to take those lessons and implement them, like, the next game?

PASCAL SIAKAM: Yeah, no, I think he really listens. I think sometimes, you talk to people, and you can tell if they're listening or not. I mean, and he's one of those guys, like, you know he's listening.

I don't know if he's listening about the fouls, but-- because he always reaches in. And I try to tell him not to. And like, if you see in a game, we talk sometimes. And after the foul, I try to tell him. I don't know if he listens, but for the most part, he does, though.

- When you're introduced to the game a little bit later in life, does it almost kind of change the ways in which you learn and develop because you have more developed skills overall, if that makes sense as a question?

PASCAL SIAKAM: I don't know. Yeah, I don't know. I think for me personally, I just-- I just always learn a lot of different things. Like, I went to boarding school. I learned Latin. I learned Greek. I learned English. I learned so many languages.

I learned a lot of things. So me comprehending things, it just happens just because I was put in a position throughout my whole life where I had to adapt, and learn, and be in those situations where I wasn't really comfortable, and I had to find a way to be comfortable. So I think that helps me. I mean, I don't know about everybody else--

- Like, almost combatting the idea that it's too late to expand or grow because you picked it up a little bit later.

PASCAL SIAKAM: Yeah, I don't know, Kayla. That's a good question. But I don't really know how to answer you on that one.

- Pascal, you mentioned Kawhi. And Nick is somebody who mentions Kawhi a lot, as kind of what you learned from him the season when he was here. What can you say about your relationship-- relationship with him now? And are you guys still in touch at all? Or do you get any advice from him since he left the team?

PASCAL SIAKAM: I mean, we don't really talk as much. I mean, obviously, I have his number. But we don't really talk that much. I'm sure when we see each other, it's always-- like, it's always love.

And for me, like, you know, I always feel like if-- I feel like if I reach out, he's always going to be there, right? Like, it's just a matter of me reaching out. But when we see each other, it's always, always good.

- Thanks, Pascal.

PASCAL SIAKAM: Thank you.

[INTERPOSING VOICES]