Raptors forward Pascal Siakam discusses losing to 76ers, seeing his game reach new levels, what it would mean to make All-NBA and what he will be working on during the off-season.
- What are you most proud of or pleased about how-- the way your season went?
PASCAL SIAKAM: What, me personally?
PASCAL SIAKAM: I think obviously, the year before wasn't what we wanted as a team. And not being in the postseason, or you know, the season finishing early, and then having an injury, right? And I think it was just-- for me personally, it just felt like the bottom, right, like just being in a place where I've really never been before with an injury, and feeling really down, and feeling like, yeah, like it was tough, it was a hard time, and not really knowing what the future was going to hold, and going through the rehab process.
Obviously, first, it was the surgery, which was completely hard for me to go through and understand. But also after that, the rehab process, that was super hard, and something I've never done before. And yeah, like, it was just super tough.
And coming into the season, obviously, you know, I had a lot of ambitions and goals and things that I wanted to accomplish. And I just-- for me, personally, like, I'm grateful. I think for me, that's the most important thing, just being grateful that after going through everything that I went through, you know, I was standing up. And I worked really hard to be out there.
And I want to thank, obviously, everyone that was around me during that period of time, you know, getting the surgery done, the rehab process-- you know, Amanda, Alex, Scott, all those guys that spent-- like Ray, spent hours just working on me and making sure that I'm OK, and just putting the work in to get me to where I am.
And then also on the basketball side, like with Earl, you know, Jon Goodwillie, you know, Fab, Mike-- I mean, obviously the whole coaching staff, but just all those guys dedicated every single day to making me better, and focusing their time and energy to help me. And you know, I'm just super grateful, man, that I was able to have a full, healthy season.
Obviously, from the time that I was healthy, I was healthy throughout. And I'm just blessed. And I've heard a lot of people going through the things that I've been through. And it was a lot harder for them. And I'm just super-blessed and grateful that I was able to be healthy the whole season and have all those people in my journey and helping me to get healthy. So yeah, I'm grateful.
- Pascal, what's the one thing, when you mentioned coming back-- but we'd seen the results on the court. But for yourself as a player, managing growth, what's the things that we don't see when it comes to conversations that you've had with them opening your [INAUDIBLE] to get you ready to go out and [INAUDIBLE]?
PASCAL SIAKAM: Right. No, it's a lot of conversation, man. Like, I think one of my favorite things during the season was me coming in early, and I know that I'm going to see Fab, I'm going to see Mike, I'm going to see Jon, you know, Earl, like, all those guys, and just the energy that they had about themselves, and just being there, and being dedicated to every single day. Like, I'd come in and we'd get work done.
And it was just fun, even when sometimes on the court, it didn't go like we wanted to. But it was fun, like, just those guys were there. And we talked about every single game and things that we could have done better.
And it was just a lot-- a little bit more in-depth, kind of dissecting the game and understanding what we need to do better. And I think it was a lot more of that. And there was definitely people that was there, and that we had that connection, and worked through things. And yeah, that felt good.
That was a part that maybe we don't see all year. But those conversations are there and those film sessions are there, me and Earl and everyone just making sure that we understand how to get better and what we need to do to get to the next level.
- This is the first time since the championship season [INAUDIBLE] y'all have a full summer--
PASCAL SIAKAM: Right.
- --to work on things. Have you started to formulate that list of things? What do you think you need most in order to take advantage [INAUDIBLE]?
PASCAL SIAKAM: Right. I think-- yeah, there's a lot of things. I mean, obviously, it's pretty early, just after last night. But I definitely know that there's things out there that I need to get better. And I think one thing that I've always wanted to do was to be a complete player-- play at all levels of the game, like go all the way to the rim, mid-range, and then be a threat at the 3-point line. I think literally, that's for me, what makes me a complete player. And then ball handling.
So I think those things for me, that's in general what I see. I mean, all the details, I think there's a lot more in-depth on what I would need to work on that I'll probably touch on. But for now, that's just-- like, that's what I think-- be a threat at all three levels of the game.
- Pascal, what does it mean to step into a new layer of leadership with this team? And looking forward in the future, what do you think makes a great leader that you'd like to continue to be for this--
PASCAL SIAKAM: Yeah. Yeah, that's a good question. I think for me, I'm probably asking myself those same questions, right, trying to figure out how I can be helpful. And I think with my personality, it's definitely not easy to be in those positions-- like, not really feeling that comfortable, and to be that person that's going to talk and do all these things.
But I think that what I've learned throughout this process is just that sometimes, me just going out there and giving everything that I have and playing my heart out and having fun, enjoying the game is enough. Like, on me coming in the first in the gym and putting the work in-- and sometimes, for me, it just feels like a routine, right? But everyone else is looking at it. And people will mention it.
And it's like you know that they're watching it. And for them, it's like-- the younger guys that we have, I hope that they probably take something from it. And I think that for me, that's kind of what I've learned, is just that sometimes, it's not just always about just going out there and being vocal. It's just about doing the right things, and playing with passion. And being a leader on the court in terms of playing the game and putting everything into it is sometimes enough.
- Pascal, you started the season talking about how Kyle leaving, you wanted to feel like the guy on the team, like, something different. Did you feel what you hoped you'd feel? Did you get what you wanted to feel this season?
PASCAL SIAKAM: Wait, say it one more time? Sorry.
- You started the season talking about how with Kyle's departure, you wanted to feel like the guy on this team, and the leader on the court, a guy who could get off the shots. Do you--
PASCAL SIAKAM: [CHUCKLES]
- Was that satisfied?
PASCAL SIAKAM: That's what I said? [LAUGHS] Yeah, no, I think, again, my game has evolved a lot. And I do feel confident with the offense running through me, and being able to make decisions, which I think I got awfully better at, and just making plays.
And I think that, again, part of that is just if you have the ball in your hands, it doesn't mean that you're going to shoot 30 shots a game, you know? It's being able to make the decisions and being able to put your teammates in places to be successful. And I think that yeah, it's gotten a lot better with that.
And for me, I got a lot better with handling the basketball and just knowing, kind of understanding where everyone is going to be at, and trying to make the right plays every time down the floor. And yeah, I'm OK how that's going. And I have to do my part also in getting better on certain things, but yeah.
- Pascal, so much of the talk this season has been about the unique roster construction that you guys have, all the 6' 8", 6' 9" guys, the length, the interchangeability, positionless. How have you seen that vision develop over the course of the season? And ultimately, how well do you feel it was executed [INAUDIBLE]?
PASCAL SIAKAM: I mean, I think we had-- I think, for me, it was just having guys that can do a lot of things on both sides of the floor. And I think on defense, it showed a lot, you know, us being able to switch and guard different people, and being tough to play against. I think that it worked-- and being versatile as a team, playing fast, transition.
And I think it opened up the game. I mean, I don't know what-- I felt like-- I always say it's hard for me to talk about these things where it's the construction of the team. Because like, that's not-- my job, like I said, is hard enough. And I try not to really worry about it.
And I think for me, it's just being out there on the floor, and whatever is on the floor, with whoever is my teammate, and working to make the best out of it, and be the best team that we can be. But I thought that yeah, it was really good to have all those versatile guys, and guys I can do a lot of things on the floor. And I think it was fun.
Obviously, disappointing because we felt like we could have done a lot more as a team. And we proved a lot of things. And we got a lot better also. Like, there was a lot of ups and downs.
And I think that I just want to-- those guys, we did a great job. Just continue to fight. Sometimes it felt like it was going to go down, you know? But we never allowed it, and we continued to fight and work. And you know, kudos to those guys and everyone on the team.
- Sorry, I'm just gonna innterupt for a second. I think Fred's going to be done shortly. So we need do a couple more in English, and then two in French, and see where we land when Fred [INAUDIBLE].
- You talked about-- sorry, Josh.
- That's OK. Go ahead.
- You talked about kind of stepping into this role where you wanted to teach and lead. I'm wondering if there's anyone that surprised you, and the ways in which you learned from them over this season, through going through highs and lows?
PASCAL SIAKAM: Interesting. I think for me, I think there's a lot of people on the team that just-- again, they went through a lot of tough times. And maybe the season didn't go like they wanted to earlier and things like that. And yeah, I was really proud of Boucher, and just him handling everything, and being able to have a game like he had last night, you know what I mean?
Like, he played his heart out. And he's been doing that a lot, and just being in a position like that. And I think those guys continue to teach you, like, man, there's going to be down times. You just got to continue to stick with it.
I was really proud of Scottie, and just seeing his work ethic and the things that he's able to do. Obviously Rookie of the Year, and just being able to be out there and work every day. Like, he put the work in. And I just hope that he continues that.
But yeah, just seeing all those things continues to teach you different things about yourself. And yeah, I love-- there's a lot. I mean, I can go in detail about everyone, you know? But I feel like-- that I saw things in them that made me feel like, man, I learned a little bit about myself, so things that I can also do.
- [SPEAKING FRENCH]
- So Fred is here. If there's a burning question that we need to get from Pascal, we'll have you take one more. And then we'll [INAUDIBLE].
- Pascal, I just want to ask, based on how things did go this season, and maybe the end wasn't [INAUDIBLE]--
PASCAL SIAKAM: Man, you good? You good with that, man? You good? Everything good, man? All right, all right, all right.
- Don't worry about Doug.
PASCAL SIAKAM: All right, Doug, I'm just making sure, man. I'm making sure you're good. All right, good, good.
- Did you know if--
PASCAL SIAKAM: You got to ask the question first, man. [LAUGHS]
- [INAUDIBLE] this year that you go into the offseason kind of excited or optimistic, or with the sense that you're on a trajectory that's positive?
PASCAL SIAKAM: Right. I mean, it's hard to say positive because we lost, right? And we had a lot of goals. And I felt like we could have done more and achieved more. But also, yeah, optimistic-- just knowing that-- like I said earlier, just from where I came from in the season and how I was able to evolve and continue to get better as the season was going on, yeah, I'm definitely optimistic that it's going to get better. I know that it's going to get better.
And I feel like, again, having an offseason that's a little longer, and where I'm not just rehabbing my shoulder, right, I'm working on my game, it's going to definitely help me. Because I always felt like I was one of those people that during the summer got better, just thinking about my basketball career in general and playing basketball for 10, 11 years. And every summer was definitely important for me.
And now, just being able to have that, just go back to the drawing board and continue to evolve in my game and being the player that I feel like I can become, a complete player that can do everything on the floor, that's my goal. And I feel like I can achieve it. And it's there, it's reachable.
And all I have to do is go for it and work for it. And I think that I have that part kind of down in terms of I know I'm going to put the work in. And hopefully, the results come with it.
- Josh, you get a quick one.
- One very quick one-- you know you had a great season. Would All-NBA recognition mean something to you?
PASCAL SIAKAM: I think-- yeah, I mean, I think it would feel good, obviously, just being one of those top players, just because of all the hard work, man, and everything that's gone into it. And again, I tend not to really worry myself about things that I can't control. So yeah, it would be fun. Yeah, it'd be cool.
But then again, it's out of my hands. And we just see what happens. I don't think that-- whatever that is, it's not going to stop me from doing what I want to do or becoming who I feel like I should become or what I need to become. So I'm not really worried about it. But at the same time, it'd be nice.