Breaking It Down

Raptors Playbook: 4 / 1 Pick & Roll (Pascal Siakam)

Raptors Playbook: 4 / 1 Pick & Roll (Pascal Siakam)

Over at the Raptors Playbook YouTube channel (@RaptorsPlaybook on Twitter), I am breaking down the X’s & O’s of the Toronto Raptors. This week, we’ll focus on their 4 / 1 Pick & Roll – an Early Offense action involving Pascal Siakam that leverages his unique skill-set. Watch the video embedded below alongside the summary written, and remember to follow and subscribe to never miss out on a video.

Option 1: vs. Switch – Post Up – Starting at 0:14

Siakam is a wonderfully unique talent and his skill development curve being so steep cannot be overstated. Archetypically (stressing that word, as I am not comparing his talent level, nor his impact are comparable – just stylistically similar) it is useful to think of him in a similar vein to Blake Griffin of a few seasons ago, prior to his 3-point renaissance.

Siakam can very competently initiate the offense and dribble up the court, and is a very solid (and positionally, well above average) decision-maker as a pick and roll ball handler.

Defenses have largely decided that they can’t defend this action in a traditional manner by dropping the screen defender until Siakam’s defender recovers, due to the fact that the screener (Lowry / Van Vleet) is usually a tremendous shooter that cannot be momentarily unguarded while their defender drops to contain Siakam.

To combat this, defenses often opt to switch that action. Fortunately for Toronto, Siakam can swiftly punish that decision, as his unique skillset includes an efficient post up game where he famously spins and finishes with ease around the rim. This is not to mention that he is strong enough to put a mismatch under the basket.

Option 2: vs. Show-&-Recover  – Starting at 0:57

When defenses opt against playing the pick and roll in a traditional manner by dropping the screen defender, as well as decide against switching, they are really only left with coverages that involve some degree of hedging/putting two defenders on the ball (at least momentarily).

I think schematically, this is the most theoretically sound coverage. Toronto’s best success against Giannis in the playoffs a few seasons ago came when they hedged and ducked under the screen, as that disallowed him to build up the momentum to attack downhill, while also being low enough on the floor to contain his drive. Teams should probably use a similar tactic against Siakam in these actions.

However, Siakam uses his momentum well and is usually engaging in a side pick and roll, which makes the dance of hedging and going under very difficult.

Regardless – Siakam usually busts through the hedge and spins away from his recovering defender to still manage to get a finish around the rim.

Overall, Siakam’s combination of speed, ball handling, strength, post up ability, and decision making as a creator produce a very difficult tactical decision for opposing defenses that Toronto leverages well by screening with a Point Guard.

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