Imman Adan and Chris Walder have been impressed by Scottie Barnes' persistence and confidence with the ball while Pascal Siakam is at a level Raptors fans haven't seen before. Full episode is on the "Raptors Over Everything" podcast feed.
IMMAN ADAN: I think just to the point about the joy with which Scottie Barnes plays, he has a turnover in transition where-- I mean, it was-- he was running along. There's no need to make that extra pass. He does love making an extra pass. But he was bringing the ball up in transition, throws it out of bounds. Careless turnover, unforced turnover, didn't need to happen.
On the next play, he throws a no-look pass in traffic. And it's like, that is someone who does not hold the weight of his last play. He just continues to play with this joy. He's like, I know I can do this. I know that I'm just having fun out here. And I'm effective at it. I'm great. And it was fun to watch because it's like, yep, this is someone who believes in himself.
And I appreciate that because I think there are some other guys that might be down on themselves after a turnover, want to play a little bit more conservative on the next possession. My heart would appreciate that. But just for the sheer joy of this game, watching Scottie Barnes do that, I was like, yeah, Scottie's great.
CHRIS WALDER: Shoutout to Mr. Sticks, Jordan Hales dropping the Magic Johnson comparison out there on Twitter. Big shoes to fill, Magic Johnson. But Scottie Barnes, honestly, you close your eyes, you kind of get these visions of like the old school, vintage Magic Johnson. He does show glimpses of that.
So it's not that asinine of a comparison. But yeah, like you said, I mean, Scottie Barnes never gets too down on himself. He's always willing to kind of make the flashy pass. And we love him for it.
IMMAN ADAN: We absolutely do. And to just expand a little bit more on Pascal Siakam and the game that he's having or the start that he's having, I think, has just been ridiculously impressive, a 37-point triple double against the Brooklyn Nets in what ended up being a loss, but showing that he can do it. That 20 points, 13 assists game against the Philadelphia 76ers, showing that he can do it by passing the ball.
He's just shown that he can not just-- we talked to-- you've mentioned it, getting to his the spots on the court but not just that, but getting to the numbers, getting what-- because it matters when you are the leader of a team. It matters to push your team forward. And last night, he didn't have his best shooting game of the night-- of the season. He was struggling a little bit.
The ball, it felt like there was a bit of a rim on the net for Pascal Siakam. But what did he do? And you mentioned it. He cut to the line like 16 times. Not the greatest free throw shooter, but that's another step. But just being able to get there and being able to get to his spot--
When the ball is in Pascal's hands, I trust that ball is going into the paint. I trust that the Raptors are going to get in there, whether they kick it out to an open shooter or he finishes in through traffic and maybe gets bumped. You know that something good is going to happen because Pascal is relentless at pushing the ball in, getting to his spot, and making a play. And I think that that's been, to me--
The confidence that he's played with, but just the size and the tenacity-- he is not going to back down. And you're either going to put him on the free throw line, or you're going to give up a shot to him. And I just think that's been a ton of fun to watch. What has been your favorite sort of maybe growth from Pascal Siakam that you've got to see this year?
CHRIS WALDER: I think it's something that he's gotten a lot of flack over in the past. And we're kind of dating ourselves back to the bubble here. Was his confidence-- because when he was low on himself-- and he's even admittedly said this, that there are stretches where he's not-- where he goes through these cold spurts or he's turning the ball over. He's not playing to the best of his ability. It kind of shows in his demeanor.
But now that he's setting these expectations for himself and these goals-- and something that I've kind of always liked about the makeup of this Toronto Raptors roster is that it's a sum of the parts, and it's not just one guy and everyone else rallying around him. In some instances, sure, you could say that about Pascal Siakam because he kind of is putting himself on another level right now.
But one game, you can have Scottie Barnes stepping up and dropping 20 to 25, Gary Trent, Jr. had a game earlier in the season where he was lighting up a team, no rebounds and assists, the JR Smith special, if you will. And VanVleet, obviously he had that horrid game against Philadelphia. But he's also capable of stepping up and leading the team in that regard.
With Pascal, I think, when he's playing to this degree, I think he-- like I mentioned earlier, he knows where to pick his spots. Like you said, when his shot isn't falling, he knows that he can do other things to kind of help this basketball team win. And that's why you're seeing his rebound numbers go up and his assist numbers go up.
I think his basketball IQ right now is off the charts. And you can see this with other teams where the number one guy, the number one offensive creator feels like they have to do that much more to carry the load.
IMMAN ADAN: Trae Young? Sorry, is that what you were going to say?
CHRIS WALDER: Trae Young, for example, yeah, exactly.
IMMAN ADAN: I thought I just heard his name.
CHRIS WALDER: Well, I didn't say it, but you did. It is what it is. But I don't think Pascal Siakam views himself in that light. I think he knows he's playing as well as he is. But I think he also knows that he doesn't kind of have to overexert himself and kind of force the issue with his style of play.
He knows that he's surrounded by playmakers. He's surrounded by guys who could really make that number one spot and lead the team on any given night. That's kind of what I appreciate more about his game right now because I don't think in the past he kind of realized that. Now he's putting up those All-NBA numbers. But when he didn't have the best shooting performance like he did against Atlanta, he was still doing a lot of other things to help that team win.