Title: Raptors’ Pascal Siakam, Jakob Poeltl lean on friendship in contrasting rookie seasons
Date: July 21, 2017
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about the tight bond Jakob Poeltl and Pascal Siakam have forged and how it helped them through their rookie seasons.
LAS VEGAS — As they signed seemingly endless stacks of Panini basketball cards following a victory at Las Vegas Summer League, Jakob Poeltl and Pascal Siakam dabbled in trash talk about an upcoming FIFA showdown. Between reflections on their rookie seasons came unsolicited potshots and bursts of laughter, a clear sign, away from the cameras of the Raptors digital team, that the “Jak & Skills” summer video series the team was putting on Twitter was anything but an empty gimmick.
Drafted 18 selections apart in the 2016 NBA Draft, the young bigs forged a quick friendship over the course of last summer. It’s that friendship that helped both stay positive as they went through the respective valleys in their drastically contrasting rookie seasons a year ago.
In a vacuum free of team context, the season for each probably would have looked something like this: Poeltl, the lottery pick with the high floor, would have likely seen small rotation minutes out of the gate, slowly building to a larger role as the year wore on; Siakam, a late first-round pick thought to be a bit further away from contributing, would have spent heavy time in the G-League, eventually getting to measure his progress against NBA competition late in the year. This is how things normally unfold, to paint with broad strokes.
The rookie season for both, particularly Siakam, unfolded in a different and challenging way.