Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam discusses Chris Boucher’s recent play, Justin Champagnie joining him for morning workouts and how his midrange game has evolved. Follow Yahoo Sports Canada for all your Raptors coverage.
PASCAL SIAKAM: Cool. All right. See you guys.
- We're going to start with Doug Smith.
DOUG SMITH: Hey, Pascal. How are you today, sir?
PASCAL SIAKAM: I'm good. I'm good. How are you doing?
DOUG SMITH: I'm all right. Thank you.
PASCAL SIAKAM: Oh, that's loud.
DOUG SMITH: You all right? You got everything worked out there? OK. Good. Nick is always talking to us about the need for improvement. And there's ways for you guys to still improve, although things are going very well. Where do you see-- where do you see the improvement coming from, and what's necessary for us?
PASCAL SIAKAM: I mean, I think you've just got to continue to pay attention to details. I think we can definitely get better on defense, like just communicating, talking, transition defense. And I think we can be special on defense, like just the length that we have and the guys that we have and what we're able to do. So we can continue to improve on that. And then also, you know, obviously, like, we make a couple more shots, and, you know, some of those games are different.
And I think that, you know, we've been playing well. We're playing good basketball. And the effort is there. We play hard. We're communicating. Everyone's playing together. It seems like we have the same agenda, you know, which is winning. And I think that that's great. And-- and-- and, yeah, we just got to continue to just-- just kind of like get better on those little things, those details, and, you know, continue to rebound the basketball and stay attached on defense, you know, play together as a team on defense. And I think we can be special.
DOUG SMITH: Does that-- you talk about the agenda. Does that just come from having been through so much together?
PASCAL SIAKAM: I'm not for sure. I think, you know, having those guys, I mean, I know obviously some of the guys are new, but the core, you know, we've been together for a while a little bit. And, you know, I know G. I know Fred, you know, coach, and all those guys. So it's like at the same time, you know, we've been through a lot. And we know what it is to win, and we know what it is to go through a season where we're not winning. So I think that just having those those-- those-- both sides of the spectrum, like, this just help us understand what the main goal is and-- and what we need to focus on, which is winning and-- and doing everything that we can as a team to-- to accomplish that goal.
DOUG SMITH: Great. Thanks very much. Have a safe trip. Appreciate your time.
PASCAL SIAKAM: Thank you. Thank you.
- Thanks, Doug. We'll go to Mike.
- Hey, Pascal. How are you doing?
PASCAL SIAKAM: Good. How are you doing, man?
- Good, man. You spent quite a bit of time with some of that second unit, you and-- you and-- well, when Scottie was in. But leading that group, what do you think is missing from that group right now? Is it just the consistency of finding, like, sort of three guys to join you two that can sort of push that over the hump? Or what is it that's missing from that second unit right now?
PASCAL SIAKAM: Oh, man, I think, you know, all those guys that we have out there, you know, they do what they're supposed to do. And I think the most important is, like, when we bring that line up up, it's we have size. We have people that can do a lot-- like, multiple things. And I think that, like, if we focus on that, like, just being know that group that comes in and-- and we want to guard. We want to defend. Like, we don't want, you know, people to score on us. And that's our mentality.
I think we can, you know, like, just from defense alone, like, we can go out there and kind of push the lead a little bit or come back, whatever the case might be. And I think that, you know, like-- I think that's all we need from those guys, just coming in, you know, playing hard, shooting the open shots, and then just-- just-- just playing together, like, because it's just, like, a little jumble I end up, where it's like everyone can kind of do everything. But-- but also we have me and Scottie out there, like, directing traffic.
And-- and those guys can just come along and be where they're supposed to be and-- and play hard. Like-- like, you know, I think they've been doing well, like, just-- just playing hard. And I like that line up when we come out there and get a couple of stops in a row and-- and, you know, make the other team call a timeout. Like, I think that's-- that's kind of, like, should be our goal.
- Got it. And we've got Champagnie's going to come in here in a few minutes to talk to us as well. What have you seen from him? And where is he-- where is he making his progress?
PASCAL SIAKAM: Yeah. Yeah, no, like, because we have the same agent. So, like, I talk to him a lot. And obviously, you know, like, sometimes, you know, I look at his hair, and I'm thinking, like, he's older. Like, I don't know, for some reason. He just talks a lot. And I feel like he's older.
But he's super young. And I just feel like, you know-- like, I always tell him, just just, like-- like I've seen this thing happen-- or like-- a lot, you know. And people come in. And-- and, you know, you just come in. You're thinking you're supposed to be somewhere. And maybe if you're not where you think you're supposed to be, you just, you know, pout all day instead of coming in every single day, putting the work in, and just waiting for your opportunity.
And I think that that's what he's been doing, right? Every time that he's getting an opportunity, he's out there. And, you know, I've been talking to him about coming in in the morning. Like, I see-- I see him every morning working hard. And I think that that's what it takes, you know, like, just being prepared for the moment, you know, and not waiting for your name to be called and-- and then just, you know, like, you don't know what to do.
But I think he's-- he's getting prepared for it every single night. He's working. He's willing to listen, which is always encouraging, you know, for young players. And I think that is awesome, you know. And I hope that he gets more opportunity and-- and that he goes out there and, you know, obviously knock the open shots but just play defense, rebound.
Like, he-- he's a rebounding machine. Like, I don't know how he gets to the ball. Like, you know, like, you just don't know how. But it seems like the balls always find him, like, on the court. So it's like, yeah, he has that, you know. So I think just add a couple more things. Like, he'll be special. So I think he's just got to, like, stay focused, which is what I'm kind of staying on him about.
- Got it. Thanks, Pascal. Appreciate it.
PASCAL SIAKAM: Mm-hmm.
- Thanks, Mike. We'll go to Josh.
- Hey, Pascal. I wanted to ask you about Chris. He's really been stringing together some good solid games recently. What's the biggest difference you've seen from him over the last few weeks?
PASCAL SIAKAM: I just think that man, like, Chris is in a good spirit. Like, and I think, obviously, like, just, like, getting opportunity and, like, being on the floor and knowing that, like, you're coming in, like, almost every single night, right? I think that gives you a little boost. But-- but also, like, I just like his energy, like, overall.
Like, just he's in good spirit. He comes in, like, you know-- like, when he comes to the game, like, it's just about the little things. The things that he's great at at, he can do in his sleep, like just running, rebounding, blocking shots, like, which is things like he doesn't even have to think about. And I think obviously if he knocks a couple of threes down, you know, like, it's a completely different ballgame.
So I just like his energy overall, man. Like, and-- and I was talking to Fred today. And I was like, man, like, I like what he's been doing. He's been playing well. And I like his energy. And I just want to keep-- keep that going and-- and you know no matter what, you know. Sometimes you might get minutes. Something you might not. But, like, when you get out there, like, just bring your energy and the things that you do well, and I think everything's going to be good.
- And you speak from experience, obviously, as somebody who was in a similar role early in your career, as a guy that would come off the bench and bring energy. What does it take to be successful in that role over-- you talked about being consistent, so over-- a longer period of time? And how important is that-- that role to have on the team?
PASCAL SIAKAM: Yeah. No, it's important because I think, like, again, we have guys that can do a lot. Like, I mean-- I mean, how many people we want that have the ball in our hands, you know. So I think that we have, like-- we have those, like, people that can handle the ball, people that can score. And I just think that, you know, all the other guys we've just got to fill in, come in, do your part. And as long as you do it hard-- like hard and you play hard, like, you know, like, I think you're going to always have a role on the team and really a team that focuses on defense.
So if you come in, you have energy on defense, you get stops, you're blocking shots, I think that's-- that's what's most important, especially when you don't get to play every night. When you get to play, like, it's kind of, like, you know, like, wanting to prove that I should be playing. And I think that's kind of, like, the mentality that we got to have instead of just, you know, being mad that you're not playing, you. Come in and show coach why you should be playing. And just that-- that healthy competition is important. And once you have that mindset, you know, I think it helps you out there on the floor.
- Thanks, Pascal.
PASCAL SIAKAM: Mm-hmm
- Thanks, Josh. We'll go to Kayla.
- Morning, Pascal. Obviously, for yourself and Fred, you guys had some solid gains. But I think, you know, quietly but also solidly has been OG Anunoby and his want for really tough matchups. What are you guys seeing from him? What he's been able to provide from this team-- for this team?
PASCAL SIAKAM: Yeah. I think-- yeah, I mean, I think obviously we know what OG can do. And having that period of time where, you know, I wasn't playing, and he had an opportunity to go out there and-- and do a little bit more and, you know, it kind of shows his ability. And I think that everyone back, you know, it's just about us continue to focus the play-- play as a group and-- and just exploit-- exploiting matchups. Like, I just feel like we have so many guys that can be a threat offensively, especially one on one. So-- and I think he's special like that.
So he's just got to, like, you know, take his time. You know, do-- you know, obviously, he shoot the ball extremely well. And just those little times where he could get to attack, he's strong. And-- and he can finish, you know, around the rim. So I think that-- just continue to focus on that, like, and-- and get his opportunity, because I know that for us, it's like, you know, sometimes Fred is going to have 30, and sometimes OG's going to have 30. Or there's going to be me, or it might be Scottie, or it might be Gary, you know.
So we just have so many guys that can put a ball in the basket that, you know, like, we just got to play together. You know, when somebody's got it going, you know, play off of them. And sometimes you switch it around. I think we have that ability to do that.
- Personally, for yourself, I mean, the last couple of games have just been good across the board, right? You're getting in all-rounded games from yourself. And people are saying that this is probably the best basketball that they've seen you've play. Do you feel that? And if so, what was the key that unlocked that next level?
PASCAL SIAKAM: Yeah, I think-- I mean, I think I'm feeling-- I'm feeling good, like, just-- just overall. Like, my body's feeling well. I'm finally kind of, like, feeling back to, you know, like, being healthy. And I'm just, you know, excited about being out there. And the team, obviously, like, we-- we know we can do-- like, you know, and when we play well together as a team, like, we mostly win.
So I think that it just gives you a good vibe overall coming in. And just for me, like, I've been getting better, like, you know, mentally, physically, just-- just continuing to work hard. And I never, you know, stop working. And that's just me. It's part of me. And-- and I feel like sometimes I'm super, like-- you know, like, hard on myself and just, you know-- just-- just wanting to be the best so bad, like, you know, the best that I can be so bad that sometimes when you have bad games it's just-- it feels like it's the end of the world.
But I think I've just been better mentally, just, like, staying even keeled and knowing that at the end of the day, like, as long as I put the work in every day, like, most of the time good things are going to happen. And that's just the mindset that I have, like, just that positive vibe. And I think it helps my game overall. And-- and again, I think I focus on being an all-around player, you know, like, wanting to do everything-- rebounding and passing and scoring. And I think I can do that,
- Thanks, Pascal. Safe travels.
PASCAL SIAKAM: Thank you.
- Thanks-- [CLEARS THROAT] Thanks, Kayla. We'll go to Steven.
- Hey, Pascal. It's good to see you. Just going back to Justin quick-- Justin quickly, you mentioned how, like, he's a rebounding machine. You've also been putting up big-- big rebounding numbers as well lately. So I was just wondering, like, you working alongside Justin, like, has he helped-- has he helped you?
PASCAL SIAKAM: [LAUGHS] Oh, man, that's funny. Nah, Justin's my son. I'm helping him, the other way around. But, no, no, for me, I just think it would be, like, I just-- I mean, I've been really making the effort to do it, you know. You know, sometimes it's going to work, you know. Sometimes it's not. Like, this night I'm gonna have five rebounds. This night I'm going to have 15. You know what I'm saying?
So I think that I'm just willing to do that. And-- and it's just put, like, giving that extra effort to, like, run them down. And I think that's what I've been focused on.
- Like-- and this-- this relationship with-- with Justin, like, you know, it feels like you've taking a bigger step in a leadership role. So-- so, like, you taking him under your wing, like-- like has it helped you grow as-- as a leader? Like, can-- can you feel that?
PASCAL SIAKAM: Yeah, I mean, I think-- because I like to think that I'm pretty weird. Like, I just know, like, I'm kind of, like, to myself, like, most of the time, you know. And I think that, you know, just having so many, like, you know, guys that are just, like, you know, young and just energetic, like, I think it gets you out of your shell a little bit. And-- and obviously, like I said, like, we have that connection. We have the same agent. So, like, I think it's even easier.
And just, you know, obviously, like, being able to see someone that wants to work-- and I think it's, like, the same thing with everyone, you know. Like, just guys I want to learn encourages you to-- to want to continue to share what-- like, the little that you know. I mean, obviously I'm still learning. And-- and I'm nowhere near, you know, being at a level that I'm supposed to be.
But I think that I have a little bit of experience that I can share. And when you have guys that are willing to, you know, listen, it's great. It's great, you know. Yeah, my son, Justin, just got here. So--
PASCAL SIAKAM: I think he's next, right? He's doing an interview next? Yeah.
- Thanks a lot, Pascal.
PASCAL SIAKAM: [LAUGHS]
- Thanks, Steven. We've got two more for you, Pascal. We'll go to Amit first.
- Hey, Pascal. Thanks so much for your time today. I wanted to ask you about your mid-range game a little bit because it seems like from, like, 5 to 19 feet or so, all your numbers are up. You're making a lot more shots in that area. You have, like, different dribble combinations. Your step back, obviously, has been such a big asset. Was that kind of, like, a focus for you during the offseason, heading into this year?
PASCAL SIAKAM: Yeah, no, for sure. Like, it's something that I've been wanting to work on. And I just always felt like that's kind of, like, something I have to unlock, like. And again, I'm nowhere near where I want to be. But I feel like it's an area where, you know, like, I'm so dangerous, like, attacking the rim that, you know, most of the time I'm gonna get help. Like, it's not going to be easy to get all the way there.
So having that in between games is going to be important. And it's something I've been working on. And when you think about it, like, even the year before this year, like, didn't really get a summer, like, for-- for real. And then also, like, I got-- I got injured again, you know. So my summer was kind of, like, different than the ones that I usually have, where-- which for me, is really important because, like, that's where I take my game to the next level.
And-- and sometimes, you know, it's just mind blowing to me that, like, yo, like, you've been playing basketball for 10 years, 11 years. And, like, it's, like, you know, like, obviously you are this level now. But there's so much more that you can learn. And that's my mindset. And that's something that I've been working on. And-- and, you know, I'm just-- just hoping to continue to improve on that.
- Doing good work, man. Thank you.
PASCAL SIAKAM: Appreciate it.
- Last one for you, Pascal, goes to Vivik.
- Hey, Pascal. Thanks for the time. Just wondering, you guys, you know, over the past month and a half, you've only spent maybe five or six days on the road. But with everything that's been going on, has it actually felt, like, being home?
PASCAL SIAKAM: Oh, I mean, yeah, I think, because at the same time, we still come to, VO, you know. We still come here. We practice here. It's still, like, you know, we go to the Scotiabank. And-- and it feels like home. Obviously we want to have the fans there.
But, like, I think it gives you like a-- like a home feel because it's, like-- like, known territory, like, to be honest. And-- and it doesn't feel, like, strange because it's something that we've been doing. We've been used to it. And having that same routine sometimes helps. But, again, like, with everything going on in the world, like, I feel like we've kind of, like, also adapt to the fact that, like, you don't know what's going to happen. And-- and-- and you know, it was OK here in Tampa. Obviously, it wasn't what we wanted.
But just getting out of your comfort zone sometimes make you learn about yourself. And-- and I think that, you know, we all got better from that experience. And-- and now even, you know, sometimes when things get changed quickly, you know, like, we just stay on track because-- because we've kind of been used to things changing. And I think that it's an experience that you want to have. And-- and we're grateful that we had that. And hopefully that can make us better.
- And you mentioned that, you know, obviously you're someone who is used to putting in a lot of work in the offseason and coming back a better player, not being able to do the things that you usually do, what did you maybe learn about how to get better without those things?
PASCAL SIAKAM: Yeah, I just think that it's about-- it's just about adapting. Like, things happen. It's, like, that's life, you know. And sometimes we get so used to certain things. And-- and even, like, just for us, like, winning, like, it was like, yo, like, we always win. And it was part of us.
And then we got hit with, like, losing. And it's like, oh, my god, like, I don't know. What this is? And it feels strange. And-- and-- but, again, at the same time, it makes you better. It makes you stronger. And there's things that you have to go through that, you know-- you know, they're not gonna be comfortable. But it's going to make you a better person, a stronger person. And I like to believe that.
And, you know, even for me, personally, all these experiences that I've been going through, like, it's only going to make me a better-- better person. And it was just funny because most of the time when something happened to you, you always ask yourself, like, you know, like, why me, right? Like, it's like-- it's like, why not you, you know? Like, you have somebody else you want to suggest that to happen to, you know?
So it's just, like, again, at the same time, like, you just got to have the attitude that, like, things happen. And you got to move forward. And I think that's kind of, like, what I've been doing. And sometimes it's going to be great. But sometimes, you know, it's not. And that's life.
- Thanks, Pascal. Have a safe flight.
PASCAL SIAKAM: Yep. Thank you.
- Thanks very much, P.
PASCAL SIAKAM: Oh, my god.
- Justin is there.