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I hope this decision isn't being made until after the playoffs at least.  People are slobbering all over Pascal after the wiz game.  He sure looks great, but I don't see him - yet - as a max player. I mean he hasn't done anything beyond having a pretty good season with some great games sprinkled in.  If he steps up huge and is a leader down the stretch and through the playoffs, then sure, we can have that conversation. But at this stage?  Nah, he looks like a really intriguing prospect as a 2nd or 3rd piece on a great team,  not as a #1 max guy.  
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'trane wrote:
I hope this decision isn't being made until after the playoffs at least.  People are slobbering all over Pascal after the wiz game.  He sure looks great, but I don't see him - yet - as a max player. I mean he hasn't done anything beyond having a pretty good season with some great games sprinkled in.  If he steps up huge and is a leader down the stretch and through the playoffs, then sure, we can have that conversation. But at this stage?  Nah, he looks like a really intriguing prospect as a 2nd or 3rd piece on a great team,  not as a #1 max guy.  

Yeah, no way is he a max player at this point. I agree, let's see what happens in the playoffs.
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Sure, I'm just convinced he is that good already. Wizards game or not, that is minor detail and it was against Wizards' defense.
And he can't get that offer officially before certain date, I believe it is third anniversary of his rookie deal signing. And that is deep into the off-season so there will be no rushing at all.
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Spicy Take: Could Pascal Siakam be the best player from the 2016 draft?


Ben Simmons still has the pole position, but the man called “Spicy P” is gaining ground — fast.

[image]Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Before there was Zion Williamson — “athletic freak the likes of which we had never seen before” — there was Ben Simmons.

At 6’10”, 230 lbs, Simmons was the prototypical man against boys. Sure he may have shot with the wrong hand, and sure, he may have never wanted to have to play in the NCAA at all, but there was no denying the obvious: Simmons was an incredible talent.

And so, the Philadelphia 76ers took Simmons #1 overall.

At the time there were some pushing for Brandon Ingram of Duke, and even the odd vote for the (at the time) intriguing big-man Dragan Bender; or even Buddy Hield (fresh off being named college player of the year). But with the joys of hindsight it seems obvious that the Sixers did the right thing, even though injury, and perhaps The Process, kept Simmons out of his entire rookie season.

All the numbers back it up. Simmons leads everyone in his draft class in points, rebounds and assists per-game, and is the top four in total points, assists and rebounds, despite, again, missing a whole season.

If you were to redo the draft today, Simmons is unquestionably the number one pick.


... if you were to redo the draft today, you can make a very good argument that the Raptors’ own Pascal Siakam would be the second overall selection.

Siakam has played the ninth most minutes in his draft class. Per-game, Pascal is 10th in scoring, 3rd in rebounding and 14th in assists.

More compellingly, he’s right behind Simmons in Value Over Replacement Player (second), Win Shares (second), and Win Shares/36 minutes (third — interestingly it’s Siakam’s one-time front-court partner, Jakob Poeltl, that’s number one).

Couple that with the 44 points he dropped Wednesday night — the second-best single game performance of everyone in his draft year, behind only Jamal Murray’s infamous 48 against the Celtics, and you’ve got an argument that Siakam’s upside matches anyone in that draft not named Ben Simmons.


... is it possible that Siakam could actually overtake Simmons?

It seems like an insane statement to make. But if you look deeper, there is a reason to believe that Simmons vs Siakam could be a legitimate argument in the future.

Number Two, but trying harder?

Ben Simmons466015.30.1587.5
Pascal Siakam436612.90.1424.5

The first thing that’s clear is that while Simmons has definitely been better, the comparison between the two isn’t, in fact, insane.

The numbers here are also pretty apples-to-apples since, despite Simmons missing his first year, he’s played so much since that he’s actually been on the floor more in two years than Siakam was in three.

This isn’t shocking, and makes the case for Simmons’ superiority. From literally the moment he stepped on an NBA court, Ben Simmons has been a star.

Of course, players do grow and improve, and here, even the biggest Simmons supporter would concede that Siakam’s growth has been more pronounced — if only because he started from such a low baseline.

Getting Closer

Ben Simmons2017-1827329.20.1624.6
Ben Simmons2018-1919286.10.1522.9
Pascal Siakam2016-178591.60.890.2
Pascal Siakam2017-1816794.71.331.7
Pascal Siakam2018-1918286.61.742.5

A couple of things here:

  1. Even for someone who watches and writes about Toronto all the time, it’s incredible how fast Siakam is improving. From being barely better than replacement level in his rookie year, Siakam now sits #16 in the NBA in win-shares. That’s within range of being named to an All-NBA team. In fact, right now, Siakam is on pace to garner more win shares than Simmons in 2018-2019.
  2. Simmons is really good, but he hasn’t shown any marked improvement in year two. He’s on pace to record about half of a win less than year. His scoring efficiently is up slightly (his true shooting percentage has gone from .557 to .587), and his rebound rate is up a little too(14.3% from 13 %), but everything else — assists, steals, blocks and turnover rates — have all trended in the wrong direction, again if only slightly.

To be fair, there are some obvious elements that may be hampering Simmons development. Firstly, he’s already at a border-line All-NBA level. The room to get better from that is a lot less than someone like Siakam.


Secondly, he’s endured a season of incredible change. The Sixers have made two major additions mid-season, and even from the beginning there was more talk about what Simmons can’t do (shoot), than what he can (basically everything else), which you could argue makes it harder to play free and easy.

It’s also very possible that this new Sixers team, now with some real shooting in the starting line-up, could be much better tailored to Simmons skill-set, unlocking another gear in the young Aussie.

And yet...

Simmons inability, and, maybe more importantly, unwillingness to shoot the ball from any sort of distance gives teams a clear book on how to defend him. Play off of Simmons and force him to drive into traffic, while also allowing teams to leave him to gum up Philly’s other actions (Simmons makes this harder by being an advanced cutter for such a young player, but it’s still a problem for the Sixers to puzzle out).

Siakam isn’t any real sort of shooter himself, but unlike Simmons, he’s improving. Siakam’s hitting 34% from distance this season, which has pushed his true shooting percentage up to .626 — 13th in the league, and sixth highest among players who take at least 11 shots a game.

Right now, it’s hard to argue that as a pure scorer Simmons is better than the man they call Spicy P.

Simmons’ remaining major advantages over Siakam are play-making and defense — and those gaps are narrowing too.

Get That Garbage Outta Here!

Ben Simmons2017-181.4553.6
Ben Simmons2018-190.792.62.6
Pascal Siakam2016-170.491.21.9
Pascal Siakam2017-
Pascal Siakam2018-191.842.51.6

Both Siakam and Simmons are impressive defenders, especially for how young and relatively inexperienced the two are. Simmons was far better last year, and at worst it’s a push this year — but again, the gap is narrowing.

A lot of the fascination with Simmons is that he’s a 6’10”, 230-lbs wrecking-ball with the foot speed to be a guard. Siakam stands one inch shorter than Simmons, but with the same listed weight. Their frames could not be more different, but functionally they’re the same sized human-being, with an increasingly similar ability to guard multiple positions.

If you want to give an edge to Simmons because he has a higher career rebound rate (13.5% to 12.1%), which has only increased this year (14.3% to 12%), I won’t argue with you, but it’s clear both are significant pluses on that end.

That leaves play-making, and here there is no argument whose better — Simmons is a genius level passer who has an assist rate up over 35%. There’s a reason Magic Johnson wants to tutor him (beyond tampering), Simmons has the chance to be one of the top passers in NBA history.

Siakam is not in that league, and never will be, but like everything else in his game it’s coming along.

Dropping Dimes?

Pascal Siakam2016-1713.10.32.913.1
Pascal Siakam2017-1815.72.013.511.1
Pascal Siakam2018-1919.92.813.312.3

To be fair, the improvement in this part of Siakam’s game is somewhat over-stated. His assist percentage has fallen slightly from last year, and is AST/TO ratio has increased, but so too has his usage. The fact that Siakam has tread water as a play-maker while seeing a big increase in offensive responsibility is a good thing that speaks positively to his ability to become better as that usage stabilizes.

Some of that decline in efficiency is undoubtedly related to Siakam’s change in role. Last year Siakam played on a second unit that moved the ball a ton. This year, especially with Kawhi Leonard on the floor, the Raps offense can be stagnant. And of course, last year Pascal was feeling a special kind of way about this guy.

The eye-test also suggests that Siakam is making higher degree of difficulty passes (although the assist to turnover ratio suggests he’s still not sure which ones to attempt).

Again, Siakam will never be anywhere close to the sort of creator than Simmons is, but if there is more improvement to come than things start to get interesting down the line.

Does Simmons’ edge in play-making, and rebounding overcome Siakam’s now elite ability to finish possessions? If Siakam can stay this efficient with a usage rate closer to Simmons’, and his play-making numbers take a jump, and his outside shooting continues to improve, then aside from name-recognition, does Simmons still have an indisputable case for being the best player in his draft year? Especially if his one major weakness is something opponents’ continually exploit in the playoffs?

Of course, Simmons can get better too. If he ever finds an even semi-reliable jump-shot than this question becomes completely moot. Simmons is also just 22, two full years younger than Siakam — the history of basketball strongly suggests that a 22-year old has more room to improve than a 24-year old.

Then again, Siakam started playing basketball almost a decade later in life than Simmons did — so maybe that history means less than usual.

Ben Simmons walked into the NBA a sure-fire star; the best player available in his draft class. Pascal Siakam walked into the NBA to a chorus of “who?”, a virtual unknown in his draft class. Simmons is still the best player available, but NBA fans know Siakam’s name now, and Simmons reign at the top of the 2016 draft class may not last forever.

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First, they can't even offer Pascal an extension until July. So no need to worry about or hope for something sooner.

Second, if they want to build a team around Pascal, the best way to do it is letting him get to FA, and use his low cap hit to add free agents then sign him to the max.
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If there’s no extension

If the two sides can’t come to an agreement on an extension, Siakam will become a restricted free agent in 2020. The Raptors will tender him a qualifying offer at that time, giving them the right to match any offer sheet he signs.

Siakam’s maximum contract with the Raptors in restricted free agency would be five years at 25 percent of the salary cap with an annual raise of eight percent of the first year salary. Like in the extension example above, that amount works out to $168.2 million based on current estimates. Siakam’s max offer sheet with another team would be four years and $124.7 million.

The Raptors could also submit a “maximum qualifying offer” for Siakam’s full five-year max right out of the gate, which limits the offer sheets he can receive. (Essentially, Siakam would still be free to seek out other deals, but his best deal would be with the Raptors and they could match anything he signs elsewhere, anyway.)

All of this is to say that the downside isn’t too extreme if an extension doesn’t get done. Siakam’s maximums are largely the same and the Raptors don’t run much risk of losing him if they’re committed to keeping him. Now, if Siakam is less than a max player, or at least the Raptors feel he is, restricted free agency does pose the risk of someone paying him more than the Raptors are willing to match. Whether they can avoid that depends on Siakam’s willingness to sign a sub-max extension.

The Raptors’ case for an extension

The biggest argument in favour of getting an extension done now is that it’s done and out of the way. Locking Siakam in now eliminates the what-if downside of his restricted free agency and some of the potentially uncomfortable negotiations that could arise at that time. (Non-max RFAs have fairly inconsistent markets, and while the Raptors would likely work swiftly to get a Siakam deal done, there are awkward examples every year of stalemates without an offer sheet.) A deal also assures both sides that the other is committed to a long-term future together.

Perhaps more notably, an extension can signal to the market and to other players and agents that the Raptors are a team that takes care of their guys, and it ensures that the organization’s relationship with Siakam remains in excellent standing moving forward. Considering he’s a big part of the present and future, that’s not nothing.

From a more tangible perspective, it also offers cost- and roster-certainty. Particularly if Leonard stays, the Raptors will be able to operate with Siakam on the books at a firm number, which can be helpful as they consider other trades and signings from both a cap-sheet perspective and an on-court perspective. There is value in certainty. (And in a pessimistic case, locking Siakam in means not losing an asset for nothing, and he becomes a tradeable commodity if the team ever decides to do a full-scale rebuild.)

The biggest argument in favour of an extension, though, would be the chance to get Siakam signed at a cheaper contract. We’ve talked about Siakam’s theoretical max, but if his camp is willing to sign below that amount, then the Raptors might be enticed to get an extension done now.

As a rough example, say the Raptors think there’s a 30-percent chance Siakam commands the full max (an average of $33.6 million) in the summer of 2020, a 50-percent chance he commands $22.5 million, and a 20-percent chance he tails off and only commands $17.5 million. Their expected salary for Siakam in 2020 based on those (very) loose estimates is $28.3 million per year over the life of a contract. If they could sign him to an extension that pays him less than that right now, it might be worth giving up some of the flexibility we’ll discuss in the next section to secure that discount.

The Raptors’ case against an extension

The case against an extension is much more tactical (and, admittedly, cold), whereas the case for an extension skews more positive. It gets a little more into thinking of players as assets on the cap sheet, which can at times be a little uncomfortable. These things require a pragmatic approach, though, and the case against a Siakam extension is rooted in some very strong logic.

Before looking at the numbers, there are a few other factors to consider here. For one, eschewing an extension means the Raptors aren’t betting on a certain level of continued development. High though they are on Siakam and his ceiling, waiting until 2020 affords them another year of information, and they’ll be making a decision based on a much more reliable data set. It’s certainly possible Siakam continues growing into a max-level player, but you might not want to pay for that on speculation, especially since you don’t have to. Because again, the downside here is just that Siakam enters restricted free agency and the Raptors can still match any offer for him. Basically, if they think he’ll become a max guy, they’ll always have the option to pay him as such. Waiting also insulates against market shifts (like when they extended Jonas Valanciunas right before the centre market cooled, although that was still a fair deal).

There’s also the small note that Siakam in his current form – at a $2.35-million salary heading into restricted free agency – would be a significant trade chip. The Raptors have him in their long-term plans, so this is a lesser consideration, but signing him to an extension this summer would make him very hard to trade in 2019-20 due to the “poison pill provision.” If Siakam signs an extension, his salary for the purposes of matching in trades would be different for the team acquiring him than it would be for the Raptors, making him very difficult to move. This would only be a consideration if a legitimate superstar became available to pair with Leonard and would mean the Raptors shifting from the 2020 pivot foot they’ve long maintained, but it’s worth keeping in mind.

Now, the numbers. So, remember the other day when we discussed cap holds? This is where the biggest argument against a Siakam extension comes in.

If Siakam signs an extension this summer, he immediately goes on the books for 2020-21 at whatever his salary is in the first year of that extension. The way the collective bargaining agreement works, the Raptors have a huge opportunity in the summer of 2020 to further build up their roster by delaying a Siakam extension. That’s because if Siakam doesn’t sign an extension, he’ll only count on the cap for his cap hold of $7.06 million when free agency opens in 2020. Basically, because Siakam’s salary has outstripped his cap hold, the Raptors can gain additional cap room by putting off increasing Siakam’s salary.

The offseason in 2020 would play out like this: Let Siakam become an RFA, use all the cap space available, then re-sign Siakam at his higher salary.

Let’s look at how the cap sheet for 2020 would look in four scenarios to illustrate. We’ll ignore Fred VanVleet’s free agency for simplicity, since we only want to see the Siakam impact. We’ll also assume the team picks up their fourth-year option on OG Anunoby. So they’ll have either two, three or four players locked in for the summer of 2020, plus minimum roster charges. Look how waiting on Siakam changes the cap picture:


If the Raptors were trying to maximize cap space to chase free agents in 2020, holding off on Siakam’s deal helps a great deal. And while cap space itself is sometimes overrated since it depends on the free agent class, how much cap space is chasing how many players, players’ willingness to sign with you and so on, that flexibility is important. It could mean being able to chase a max-level star to add to a Siakam-Leonard core in 2020. Any extension for Siakam greater than $7.1 million eats into potential cap space.

(The counter to this would be that the 2021 free agent class is stronger and, if the Raptors can work out a discounted extension with Siakam now rather than waiting, they could have max space to chase a star with Leonard, Siakam and VanVleet all still in the mix that summer. The thinking could also change if the Raptors make offseason moves that add salary for 2020, thus negating the relative importance of that extra space.)

There is a real opportunity cost to extending Siakam now in terms of the 2020 market thanks to how cap holds work. There are still good reasons to extend Siakam, as laid out earlier, but Toronto’s main hesitation in any negotiation will be the lost flexibility in the summer of 2020 that getting a deal done now would mean.

Siakam’s side is a little more straightforward

Siakam’s side should be more financially motivated to get an extension done than the Raptors. Security is an important factor, and money guaranteed today is often valued more than hypothetical money later. There is an interesting wrinkle with Siakam being 26 next summer, in that his camp may view this as his lone chance at a major payday (thus wanting to get every dollar possible) or preferring a shorter-term extension (say, three years) so he can re-enter the market at a more prime age.

There is also the element of betting on oneself, something that’s defined most of the Raptors roster at one time or another. Getting a four-year, $80-million extension would be life-changing – and given Siakam’s philanthropic goals, legacy-changing – money. But might a player who has improved so much so fast want to see what he can do with one more year and shoot for the max? That’s something only his camp really knows at this point.

Let’s make some broad assumptions about the willingness of both sides to make deals at different starting salaries (it’s unlikely these curves are actually linear, given the marginal impact at certain price points). If Siakam is only willing to come so far on a potential discount and the Raptors are only willing to go so far into their 2020 cap space, the negotiating zone isn’t the minimum to the maximum, it’s Siakam’s minimum to the Raptors’ maximum. As dire as it might seem, there are some points along the way where you could squint and see parameters of a deal.


(Yes, I modelled that so that the Raptors and Siakam intersect at exactly the point where the Raptors could still get to a max salary space that summer with Siakam and Leonard in the mix. Again, broad assumptions for the sake of illustration.)

There is a middle ground somewhere. It might be narrow.

Through all of this, the biggest consideration may be Siakam’s relationship with Masai Ujiri, which has been a big part of his growth. Not getting an extension done now runs some risk of discomfort, but the Raptors could likely lean on Siakam’s trust in Ujiri to lay out the scenario and maintain his faith that he’ll be taken care of eventually. Because really, not doing an extension isn’t so much about Siakam’s salary as it is about timing and about surrounding Siakam with the best possible roster. If he has trust the Raptors will do right by him after they spend in 2020, maybe the risk of leaving money on the table for the time being is worthwhile. That’s the hardest part in all of this. The financial risks and opportunity costs are fairly clear for both sides, but it’s tougher to account for the psychological impact of negotiating with (or against) a player you want to be a key piece of your team long term.

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Summer Workout Plan: How Pascal Siakam could become even more efficient in the post


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Masai Ujiri said that he's conversations with Pascal Siakam's representation and that the Raps plan to keep Siakam in Toronto for a "long time."

The Raptors have until October 21st to agree to a long-term deal, or Siakam will become a restricted free agent next summer. "We've had conversations with Pascal's representation and we're excited whether it's going to be this fall or next summer, we're excited for the potential of what that could be," Ujiri said during Saturday’s media day. "He's somebody that we're going to keep for a long time." Toronto is going to pony up major money; the only question is when.

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At this time last year, as improved as he was over the previous year, Pascal Siakam was not widely expected to be starting in Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game. But agent Todd Ramasar is not surprised at how quickly Siakam has arrived at the top level of his sport.
In 2016, in a gym watching Siakam work out before that year’s NBA Draft, Ramasar, a former UCLA basketball player-turned-agent, saw the promise— the length, the grace, the motor and the determination to do what it takes to become an All-Star. Ramasar told him so, and as part of his pitch to become his agent, Ramasar also told Siakam about a training and health monitoring ecosystem he was going to make available to his clients, at Ramasar’s expense, that would incorporate the latest developments in sport science and accelerate Siakam’s future development.

Indeed, Ramasar is grateful to McKechnie in particular for teaching him how the Raptors are using techniques drawn from sports science to help their players.

The dashboard is a software app, now in a beta test with elite NBA players, including Ramasar’s clients, developed by a team of medical doctors and Ph.D.s at Orreco, a worldwide leader in sports physiology co-founded by Drs. Brian Moore and Andrew Hodgson.
The app provides a player’s NBA schedule with countdowns to the next opponent, his travel schedule including travel miles over the next seven days, scouting reports, game preparation and recovery recommendations leading into the next contest. Players can monitor their blood levels and sleep patterns, and use the app to suggest what foods to take to reduce their stress levels, which Orreco’s research identifies to be a strong predictor of illness and future injuries within a period as short as the next two days.
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Anyone hear Stephen A. Smith's little talk on that show from yesterday...said he didn't like the Spicy P nickname (when changing GA from the Greek Freak to something more relating to his African heritage came up)..."well it's not as bad as Spicy P..."

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Pascal has struggled offensively in the Nets series, at least by his standards. He must get better for the Celtics series, but at least his defensive effort is there and his assists/rebounds look very healthy.
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MikeToronto wrote:
Pascal has struggled offensively in the Nets series, at least by his standards. He must get better for the Celtics series, but at least his defensive effort is there and his assists/rebounds look very healthy.

Pascal's regular season, per 36: 23.4 points, 7.5 REB, 3.5 AST, 2.5 TOV
Pascal's playoffs thus far, per 36: 22.4 points, 8.4 REB, 5.1 AST, 1.9 TOV

Like, his efficiency is definitely down a little, but kind of hard to call that struggling offensively overall. 

I do think he can be better moving forward getting better shots near the rim. And his threes will fall eventually. 
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DanH wrote:

Pascal's regular season, per 36: 23.4 points, 7.5 REB, 3.5 AST, 2.5 TOV
Pascal's playoffs thus far, per 36: 22.4 points, 8.4 REB, 5.1 AST, 1.9 TOV

Like, his efficiency is definitely down a little, but kind of hard to call that struggling offensively overall. 

I do think he can be better moving forward getting better shots near the rim. And his threes will fall eventually. 

Didn't look at the stats, was going by the visual impressions after the bubble restart games and the first round series. He "feels a bit off" on offence, if that makes sense. All part of his growth as one of the primary options.
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Kenny Smith talked about preferring a more aggressive Donovan Mitchell over a more efficient Donovan Mitchell. I would say the same thing with Pascal right now. The efficiency will come eventually. I think it’s more important that he impacts almost every play. His passing has been improving a ton through the bubble games. His defense has been better than earlier in the season. And he’s committed to winning over personal stats. It’s really ideal as he looks to becoming more efficient. I mean once he gets there he’s an MVP candidate.
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Northern Neighbour
MikeToronto wrote:

Didn't look at the stats, was going by the visual impressions after the bubble restart games and the first round series. He "feels a bit off" on offence, if that makes sense. All part of his growth as one of the primary options.

Siakam did start slowly, but he improved over the course of the series. Like LX mentioned, Siakam could be more aggressive. He needs to attack the basket harder and with more authority. Too often he's waiting for the contact and readjusting his shot in mid-air. He needs to play bigger and stronger, and when he does he's nearly unstoppable near the rim.

What I liked about his game in the Brooklyn series is that he didn't force his offence as much. He let the game come to him, and he took mostly good shots.

Defensively, as LX mentioned, Siakam was really good. We saw the Siakam of a year ago, where he fearlessly guarded every player and made their lives difficult.
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