Expect Toronto’s Siakam-Barnes duo to evolve

Amit Mann and Katie Heindl look at the improved mechanics in Scottie Barnes’ jump shot, the next steps for Pascal Siakam and how they could be an even more potent duo on offence next season. Listen to the full podcast looking at exciting storylines heading into the 2022-23 season on the ‘Raptors Over Everything’ podcast feed or watch on our YouTube channel.

Video Transcript

AMIT MANN: Wrapping up the podcast. Last thing we are very, very excited for, it’s a Pascal Siakam, Scottie Barnes two man game going to the next level. Oh boy, this has been very fun. Even like the early stages of this during the latter part of last season, we saw those two with a desire to play together, to work off of each other.

And once you have that between two players– no egos, they just want to see each other succeed, that kind of stuff– already a very good start. But you combine hopefully a better shooting ability from both of them– I mentioned the players sagging off of Scottie Barnes and doubling Pascal because Scottie didn’t have that shooting ability necessarily at the 3 point line. But what if he has that?

And what if now you combine that with some of the high lows that they’ve been doing, get some of the Rico Hines runs, just working off of each other, not ever really being too close, reading each other and finding that chemistry? Very interesting two man game. It’s been very successful. It helped them get through March and really find themselves in that top part of the Eastern Conference, or at least go from a play-in team to in that top six. So you see another level of those two working off of each other. Damn. Damn, damn, damn.

KATIE HEINDL: Well, I think another thing with that is that spacing is always a bit tricky for Pascal, just in that defenders tend to double up on him or they’ll block his lanes that they know he’s going to try for. And I think with Scottie, like if those two are kind of bouncing off each other– because of their size, but also because of not necessarily knowing like who to pin down, that’s going to open up a lot of possibilities for both of them. But I think especially Pascal won’t feel that kind of same pressure around the basket that he’s felt in past seasons when he’s just trying to go it solo.

So I’m interested for that. Also just because they look so happy and joyful playing together. Yeah, they really do. And that’s something I think really integral to Pascal Siakam’s game. Scottie just seems like he’s a bright light all the time, you know? And like kind of shines that on his teammates, which is wonderful. But yeah, that’s just like another great thing.

I think there’s just like more things than not to look forward to it this season. Granted, we are in the most optimistic time of like the pre-preseason.

AMIT MANN: Yeah.

KATIE HEINDL: This is the time to kind of make all these claims and to set your hopes really high I think, and not try and get to bogged down in what ifs or shooting percentages that we talked about earlier. Like throw all that stuff out the window. Just let yourself be recklessly hopeful about this team.

AMIT MANN: Yes.

KATIE HEINDL: I think you should.

AMIT MANN: That’s what we’re doing.

KATIE HEINDL: Yes.

AMIT MANN: That’s what this is. Things we’re excited for with this Raptors team. It’s hard to not think that the shooting will be a little bit better. Last season, they were 20th in 3-point shooting, 15th in catch and shoot 3-point percentage. Both of those numbers, just with some internal development, are going to get elevated. And if we want to be–

KATIE HEINDL: Yeah. Sorry to interrupt. I was just going to say, like, we’ve seen the movement improving in these runs. And like when that improves, shooting does naturally follow.

AMIT MANN: Yes. Yes, it does. Yes, yes. Like I want to see more of Pascal as a screener, right? Because then if he’s able to use his downhill speed, his ability to finish around the basket– and maybe there’s some picking and popping happen. That would just be another level for Pascal. If we’re talking about him being able to be like a pick and popper and able to hit shots off the dribble, those kinds of things are going to help him get easier offense, and it’s going to create so much more space.

Because then, again, you’re adding in his decision making skills when he has a ball in his hands, and now you’re able to ask him shooting gravity. Just like with Fred VanVleet, right? These are the things that they have to really tap into to get their halfcourt offense to be a lot better outside of some more additional off-ball movement, things like that.

But I want to see more of like Gary Trent, Jr., and Pascal Siakam pick and rolls. I think that’d be really, really cool. And that comes to mind because, yes, I saw it in a Rico Hines run yesterday. And Gary found Pascal at the 3-point line, he hit a shot. Like that kind of stuff really does matter. It’s going to make offense so much easier for Pascal and for the Raptors overall.

It’s always does come down to shooting. Even when we were going into that 76ers series, I was talking to [INAUDIBLE] and I said, it seems like this is going to come down to which team has a better 3-point shooting performance. Because the 76ers were going to be good, but could they be 40% from 3?

KATIE HEINDL: Yeah.

AMIT MANN: And then with the Raptors, could they be like league average from 3 in the series? Which they weren’t at all. And guess what happened? The Raptors lost.

KATIE HEINDL: Yes.

AMIT MANN: It’s kind of come down to that. And that’s what this whole offseason feels like it’s going to be around, is just how– or the storylines going into next season is how good are the Raptors going to be from the 3-point line, their mid-range shooting, and things like that. That’s going to decide how good the halfcourt offense is, and, in turn, is going to decide, I guess, the strategy they can make as a playoff team.

KATIE HEINDL: Mm-hmm.

AMIT MANN: Damn. It always comes down to shooting.

KATIE HEINDL: It does. I mean, it is basketball. But be hopeful. Be hopeful, everybody.