Title: Raptors’ Paul Watson hopes training time with NBA stars is about to pay off
Date: December 2, 2020
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about Paul Watson Jr.’s offseason spent with Pascal Siakam, Rico Hines and NBA superstars in the hopes he can crack the Raptors rotation this year.
A basketball program is in the midst of a rebuild at a mid-sized community college in Alondra Park, Calif. The El Camino College Warriors haven’t played a game since February, their underachieving past half-decade remains on hiatus like many other clubs. Instead, their royal blue-trimmed court has become the site of another rebuild, this one involving Toronto Raptors star Pascal Siakam and roster-hopeful Paul Watson Jr., who have been putting in work together at the school for the better part of six weeks.
Siakam and Watson may seem an odd pairing at first blush. Although teammates, their 2019-20 campaigns couldn’t have ended more differently, and they are in very different places in their respective careers.
Watson, eight months Siakam’s junior, finds himself in a position Siakam can relate to. Coming off of a terrific breakout season with Raptors 905, Watson saw only a brief window to shine in the relaunch. In Siakam’s rookie season, he spent half the year starting, went down to the 905 and won a championship, then had to wait for the following season for his next NBA opportunity. For Watson, his G League breakout came a little later, in his third go-around. A move to the 905 program and a connection with head coach Jama Mahlalela, plus a huge spike in his 3-point shooting, moved him from a potential second-tier international cast-off to the fringes of the NBA.