Raptors' Pascal Siakam has a different swagger this season

On the debut episode our new Raptors show, "Strictly Hoops with C.J. Miles," the former Raptor breaks down how Pascal Siakam is maturing into a number one option with Toronto. The full episode can be listened to on the "Raptors Over Everything" podcast feed or watched on our Yahoo Sports Canada YouTube channel.

Video Transcript

AMIT MANN: That man, he's different, too. I saw you tweeting about it-- go crazy, P.

CJ MILES: Very different.

AMIT MANN: Go crazy, P.

CJ MILES: He's very different.

AMIT MANN: Yeah, well, what's different? Tell me.

CJ MILES: The first thing is, like, obviously, he's oozing with confidence.


CJ MILES: Like, you see it in everything. Not that he wasn't confident before, but he's-- it's, like, falling off of him. Like, I got a little bit to spare. I can hand you some if you need it type thing.

And he's just sharp. Like, he feels-- you could tell he feels comfortable in every situation that's being thrown at him, how he's being guarded. It's going to have to be doubles thrown at him. Like, it's going to have to be.


CJ MILES: Because we're talking about-- he's going to get sharper as the year goes.


CJ MILES: And he's going to get even better shape. Even though I've never seen him get tired, he's going to get in even better shape than he is right now. And he's going to get just in a really good rhythm. He's going to see how much his spots are open, and how many different situations he can get to.

They're going to have to come get him. Because right now, the jump shot is the biggest thing. Like you said, they put five people in the paint. So him being able to make those pull ups and the things we're talking about, him barking at PJ Tucker the first few possessions out there, like, that's spicy.

AMIT MANN: He didn't stop. He didn't stop.

CJ MILES: That's Spicy P, yeah.

AMIT MANN: Yeah, he was doing it non-stop. And then even when I thought he was done, there was a possession where he bumped PJ Tucker under the rim on, like, a little-- like, a line drive towards the bucket.

CJ MILES: Uh-huh.

AMIT MANN: And he still gave him, like, a "get off me."

CJ MILES: Uh-huh.

AMIT MANN: Get off me. I'm like, he's still doing it. He's not stopping--

CJ MILES: I showed that play to my wife.

AMIT MANN: Oh, you did?

CJ MILES: Yeah, because I was telling her what was going on. And I was like, look at this. They were about to show the replay. I was like, come look at this. Because I was watching-- we were watching, like, one game on TV, on one on my iPads.

AMIT MANN: Right. Yeah, he's a-- he's different this year. His guy, Rico Hines, spoke before the season. And he was saying that he wants Pascal to get a little bit meaner. You know, he's a little bit too nice.

Because some of the stars out there-- and he's not wrong with this-- you think of some of the greats, they do got a bit of a mean streak to them in a way that is conducive to just being very confident in yourself on the basketball court. And that interaction with PJ Tucker, all of those, I'm not sure what PJ Tucker did, what he said to him. But he said something that Pascal didn't like. And that got him all kinds of motivated.

CJ MILES: Yeah. I don't know, maybe it goes back to-- from the summer, too. Like, I know PJ is out there, too. Maybe it has something to do with that, the runs. And maybe they've been getting ready for this. Like--


CJ MILES: --I don't know. Or maybe he just disrespected the fact that-- Pascal felt disrespected because he backed up off of him, or whatever it is. Like, I don't know what-- I don't care what it was.

I like it. He can say it every night. Tell him to text it to him before every game. Like--

AMIT MANN: Yeah. You had said to me the other day that you thought some of Pascal's pull ups were looking a little Kobe-esque. And then I looked at it a little bit closer, and I was like, oh, damn, CJ's right. Yeah, I see it. I definitely see it. What made that kind of trigger for you?

CJ MILES: Just going back to the sharpness.


CJ MILES: Like his footwork-- we all know Kobe was a master of footwork. And we all know, like-- and now, I think the most-- person who's blatant with it after that is now Kyrie. Like, Kyrie is like the mirror of Kobe's footwork in the post, mid-post, and things like that.

So it's easy to identify because it's so sharp. Like, it's so-- the counters are ready. The counters are effortless.

It doesn't take a lot of work, like the one we talked about, the step-through to the pump fake to the spin back. Like, that was-- at one time, only Kobe was doing that in the league. Like, nobody was even close to doing that. He did it all the time.

And you see just guys implementing that in that mid-post because we got so far away from the mid-range. So now, you have DeMar, Pascal, Kyrie-- those are the off the top of my head. Those three guys are really--


CJ MILES: KD's really--

AMIT MANN: Devin Booker.

CJ MILES: KD's cheating a little bit because he's seven foot. But like, yeah--

AMIT MANN: Fair enough. Fair enough. Yeah.

CJ MILES: But-- but no, still the same. Like, those are just guys off the top of my head that you know it has to be sharp for it to work. And Pascal's got size. And that now, the release is higher in those shots. So it's--

AMIT MANN: This is the gather--

CJ MILES: --kind of an arc on the ball.

AMIT MANN: --you were saying.


AMIT MANN: The gather, right?

CJ MILES: And the gather.

AMIT MANN: That's very Kobe-esque.

CJ MILES: Yeah, putting people on their heels, kind of hesitating, and different timing of the pickup to shoot the ball. Like, hanging in the middle of it, picking it up early, later. Those type of things are things you only get from going through the fire the last year and a half, two years.


CJ MILES: Like, how can I find more ways, and what can make me more creative? So who was the guy that was really creative at doing this? Oh, Kobe got his shot off every time. Let me go check that out, you know what I mean? Every time.

AMIT MANN: Every time.

CJ MILES: Every time.

AMIT MANN: Didn't see him get blocked very often. Yeah, rest in peace.


AMIT MANN: He gave a lot to the game.


AMIT MANN: Something else that comes to mind with him, Pascal, is he looks quicker. And I don't know if that's actually fitness. But I wonder if it's actually he's faster with the ball in his hands, you know?

Because some guys, obviously, like, if you're sprinting down the court, you're not going to be as fast with the ball. That's just how most players are. AI would be an exception because it didn't matter. With the ball, without the ball, he was just fast.

But now-- maybe you disagree. I want you to weigh in on it. But he seems, like, more confident with his handle. And so in that degree, he's able to get downhill faster than he was before, you know what I mean?

CJ MILES: So it's definitely-- the biggest thing is, we talk about, when we work on ball handling, smooth is fast. So it comes from him just sharpening his skill, like we were talking about. It's just smoother, so it's-- it's more efficient. That's what it is.

The movement's more efficient. The setup's more efficient. I don't have to-- like, there's a dribble gone. I don't need a third dribble to get into my move because now, my feet and my hands are so good, it takes me one dribble to get to this space to be able to change directions. Before, I might have had to dribble twice before I could go between the legs to go downhill. Like, now, I've just learned how to take out less to be more efficient.

And that's what one of the things we teach. Like, when we-- one of the people that are really good at it, and one of my friends that teaches, [? Tyler ?] [INAUDIBLE] in Dallas. And there's a lot of guys implementing this type stuff in their drills.

It's just being smooth. And you don't have to-- boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. It's just being smooth and ready to-- to capitalize.

AMIT MANN: Yeah. I think a--