Title: ‘It’s got to be on me’: Pascal Siakam’s struggles at the rim are a new challenge
Date: March 2, 2020
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about Pascal Siakam’s trouble finishing around the rim, the latest challenge in a long road of them he’s overcome.
PHOENIX— Pascal Siakam has been here before.
Not here, exactly, but somewhere near here. Over the course of four NBA seasons, Siakam has stumbled regularly, making occasional steps back after a few large strides forward. The enormity of his overall growth can serve as a mask. He is one of the NBA’s greatest player development stories, and the rapid pace with which he’s jumped from perceived draft reach to overmatched rookie to key bench figure to important championship piece to max contract player has made it all feel quite linear.
Linearity is mostly a myth with development, though. Each new frontier of growth brings with it new challenges, for which uniform success is unrealistic.
Siakam did not enter the league and blow the doors off as a rookie, he was played out of the rotation and required a G League stint to recalibrate his ascent. He did not become a key factor for the 2017-18 second unit in an instant, he struggled through an historically poor 3-point shooting season to do so. He did not enter 2018-19 ready to be the de facto No. 2 option on a title contender, he grew into the role around Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry. And he certainly didn’t enter the 2019 postseason ready to dominate, he instead required adjustment periods against the Jonathan Isaacs and Joel Embiids put in front of him. Siakam’s story is not one of seamless overcoming. It is one of succeeding enough to bring about new challenges, being tested tremendously against them and eventually figuring it out, inviting even greater challenges.
And so it is now that 49 games into life as a No. 1 option, Siakam is struggling once more, punctuated by a tough night in Denver on Sunday.