Pascal Siakam’s preseason showed beautiful pick-and-roll growth

Breaking down every pick and roll Pascal Siakam ran in preseason, and how he now has a counter for any defense.

Pascal Siakam faced a startling first question on media day. He walked through Hotel X in full uniform and regalia, as is the custom of the day, and sat in front of collected media in a large glass room, television cameras trained on him. Such days are meant for easy soundbites and simple optimism, but our own Samson Folk had a real question on his mind. 

“During the season, you led the NBA in isolations, and during the playoffs you doubled your pick-and-roll frequency,” he asked. “I'm curious how you see that affecting your role, and how different types of possessions might allow you to ascend to MVP-level status and All-NBA once again?”

To his credit, Siakam took the fairly complex question in stride. He was thoughtful and generous in his response, as he has become over time during his ascension to team star. He didn’t specifically mention running pick and rolls, but the concept behind such events animated his answer.

“It makes it more interesting, having the opportunity to have the basketball in your hands more and kind of command the game a little bit, control the game in a certain way,” he said.

“Something I really didn’t do in the past… Just having that opportunity with the basketball makes the game evolve to another level.”

This is, in many ways, the final frontier in Siakam’s evolutionary path. He was an overmatched starter then an energy big who ran in transition. Then he took a big leap to corner sniper, cutter, and quick-decision scorer during his Most Improved season. In 2019-20 and 2020-21 he took another leap to first-option star who dominated with his scoring. In 2021-22 he became about as unstoppable in single coverage as any player in basketball. He feasts in isolation and post ups. But manipulating the entire court during pick and rolls remains a possible area of growth for the superstar.

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