Pascal Siakam

Atlantic Notes: Raptors, Okafor, Embiid

The Raptors reinvented their offense after a memorable offseason press conference in which president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri suggested that change would be coming. As Scott Cacciola of the New York Times, the team’s plan to change it’s mindset without actually changing its roster has actually worked.

With a desire to adapt to the ever-changing NBA landscape, the Raptors charged assistant coach Nick Nurse with the task of modernizing the team’s offense, ushering them from an era of one-and-one play into a new one that rewards ball movement and three-point shooting.

Prior to joining the Raptors, Nurse served as the head coach of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, a G League team that paced the league in three-point attempts during his time there. Already this season, he’s convinced every Raptor, with the exception of Jakob Poeltl, to hoist a three.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Raptors are making the most out of second-year forward Pascal Siakam‘s rare motor, Doug Smith of the Toronto Star writes. “That’s something that’s kind of small but it’s huge, because a lot of guys can’t run like him and don’t want to run like him and don’t have the desire to run like him, and he does,” head coach Dwane Casey says. “And he focuses on it. He thinks about it. He knows that’s how he can score, is outrun people down the floor.
  • It wasn’t long ago when Jahlil Okafor led the Sixers in scoring. These days the 21-year-old center can’t even get on the court. The trend seems eerily similar to the Nerlens Noel situation from last season, Sarah Todd of The Inquirer writes.
  • Despite only operating at 81% capacity, Sixers center Joel Embiid believes he’s the NBA’s best defensive player, Keith Pompey of The Inquirer writes. “Not to be cocky, but I think I’m the best defensive player in the league right now,” Embiid said. “I’m still getting better. My blocks are a little down [compared to last season]. I’m a better rebounder this year.

Atlantic Notes: Covington, Siakam, Porzingis

While the common reaction may be to tout Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons as prime examples of The Process paying off, Keith Pompey of The Inquirer writes that Robert Covington may be a better example.

Covington, now a coveted (and well-paid) three-and-D specialist, was an unpolished, lanky three-point shooter when the Sixers picked him up during the 2014/15 season. It was head coach Brett Brown who challenged him to round out his game.

The Process, Pompey writes, was about developing young players amid all the years of tanking so a completed project like Covington – who now averages 16.7 points and 5.7 rebounds per game, not to mention 3.7 threes per contest at a .491 clip – is as fine an embodiment as any of the Sixers’ transition.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • With D’Angelo Russell and Jeremy Lin in street clothes, now is Isaiah Whitehead‘s time to earn playing time at the point guard position, Greg Joyce of the New York Post writes. “I think I’ve matured a lot since last year,” Whitehead says of the fluctuations in his role with the Nets. “I don’t think I would have been able to handle that last year. But I’ve matured a lot, knowing it’s for the better. … I think I reacted well to it.
  • Second-year forward Pascal Siakam has made an impact on Raptors games with his relentless energy level, Michael Grange of Sportsnet writes. “He don’t get tired,” teammate DeMar DeRozan says. “I don’t understand it. Y’all should see him before practice. He’s out there doing all types of drills, already sweating and everything. It’s crazy to see.
  • An eclectic offseason training regime can be credited, at least in part, with Kristaps Porzingis‘ emergence as a superstar this season, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. The Knicks big man trained with a professional boxer and went on a safari in South Africa.

Raptors Exercise Options On Wright, Poeltl, Siakam

The Raptors have exercised three team options for the 2018/19 season, announcing today in a press release that they’ve picked up Delon Wright‘s fourth year option, as well as third-year options for Jakob Poeltl and Pascal Siakam.

[RELATED: Decisions On 2018/19 Rookie Scale Team Options]

Wright, the 20th overall pick in the 2015 draft, appeared in just 27 games for the Raptors last season, with Kyle Lowry and Cory Joseph ahead of him on the depth chart for most of the year. However, with Joseph no longer on the roster, Wright figures to be in line for a larger role as he and Fred VanVleet back up Lowry. His fourth-year option for 2018/19 will count for $2,536,898 on Toronto’s cap.

Poeltl and Siakam, meanwhile, will also be relied upon for more significant roles this season. The two 2016 first-rounders didn’t play a ton as rookies last season, but the offseason departures of Patrick Patterson, P.J. Tucker, and DeMarre Carroll will open up more frontcourt minutes in the Raptors’ rotation.

Poeltl, last year’s ninth overall pick, has the most expensive 2018/19 option of the three, at $2,947,320. Siakam’s is worth $1,544,951. The Raptors will have to decide next offseason on fourth-year options for 2019/20 for the duo. If those are exercised, Poeltl and Siakam will become extension-eligible in the summer of 2019, and would be on track to be restricted free agents in 2020.

Raptors’ Affiliate Wins NBA D-League Championship

Thursday was a good night for the Raptors’ organization. Not only did the NBA squad pull out a Game 6 victory in Milwaukee to make it through to the second round, but Toronto’s D-League affiliate, Raptors 905, won its first NBADL championship.

The Raptors’ affiliate dropped the first game of the D-League’s best-of-three Finals to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the Rockets’ NBADL team, on Sunday. However, the club bounced back with a win on Tuesday and a resounding 122-96 victory on Thursday night to clinch the series.

While many of the contributors to the championship roster aren’t under contract with the Raptors, former first-round picks Bruno Caboclo and Pascal Siakam played major roles in the team’s postseason run, as did undrafted rookie Fred VanVleet. The trio combined for 76 points on Tuesday, with Caboclo (31 points, 11 rebounds) and VanVleet (28 points, 14 assists) leading the way. All three players remain under team control for the Raptors through at least next season.

While D-League excellence doesn’t necessarily translate to NBA success, the development of their young players is certainly a positive sign for the Raptors, who could be at risk of losing NBA rotation pieces this summer — Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka, P.J. Tucker, and Patrick Patterson will all be eligible for free agency, and re-signing them would likely take Toronto deep into luxury-tax territory.

Meanwhile, the championship win is another major step forward for Raptors 905 head coach Jerry Stackhouse, who was named the D-League’s Coach of the Year last week. Stackhouse will be looking to join the NBA’s head coaching ranks at some point, and his first-year performance for Toronto’s affiliate will look pretty good on his résumé.

Finally, it’s worth noting that the Raptors’ affiliate figures to officially go down as the last D-League champion in league history. Starting next season, the NBADL will be re-branded as the NBAGL — the NBA Gatorade League.

NBA D-League Assignments/Recalls: 4/25/17

Here are Tuesday’s D-League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • In what could be the last D-League assignments of the season, Bruno Caboclo, Pascal Siakam, and Fred VanVleet have been sent to the Raptors 905 by the Raptors, the team announced today (Twitter link). Toronto’s D-League affiliate will look to extend the NBADL Finals to a third and deciding game with a win tonight, and VanVleet – who appeared briefly at the end of the Raptors’ win over Milwaukee on Monday – will Caboclo and Siakam as added reinforcements.
  • The Raptors 905’s opponent in the D-League Finals, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, likely won’t make any moves today — Kyle Wiltjer, Chinanu Onuaku, and Isaiah Taylor have been assigned to the Vipers for the last 10 days and will presumably remain with the Rockets‘ D-League affiliate as the club looks to clinch the NBADL title.

NBA D-League Assignments/Recalls: 4/24/17

Here are today’s D-League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • After a Raptors 905 loss in the first game of the NBA D-League Finals on Sunday, Bruno Caboclo and Pascal Siakam have been recalled to Toronto by the Raptors, the team announced today (Twitter link). Caboclo and Siakam figure to remain with the NBA club for tonight’s playoff game before being re-assigned to the Raptors 905 for Game 2 of the championship round on Tuesday. Since the NBADL’s series are best-of-three, Tuesday’s game could be the last of the D-League season.

NBA D-League Assignments/Recalls: 4/20/17

Here are the D-League transactions for the day:

  • The Raptors recalled forwards Bruno Caboclo and Pascal Siakam from Raptors 905, the team’s media relations department tweets. Neither player was active for Game 3 of Toronto’s playoff game against the Bucks on Thursday. Siakam had 15 points and 10 rebounds against the Maine Red Claws on Wednesday as Raptors 905 advanced to the D-League Finals. Caboclo scored 16 points in the 103-88 victory.
  • The Celtics recalled big man Jordan Mickey and point guard Demetrius Jackson from the Maine Red Claws, according to the team’s Twitter feed. Mickey had 13 points and nine rebounds against Raptors 905, while Jackson contributed 21 points and five assists in the season-ending loss.
  • The Thunder recalled forward Josh Huestis from the Oklahoma City Blue, the team announced in a press release. Huestis had a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds during Wednesday’s 102-114 season- ending loss to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. He averaged 17.7 PPG and 6.7 RPG in six postseason games with the Blue.

NBA D-League Assignments/Recalls 4/19/17

Toronto’s D-League affiliate, the Raptors 905, beat the Maine Red Claws tonight to win the D-League’s Eastern Conference and advance to the finals. Pascal Siakam, who was assigned to the D-League earlier today (via the team’s Twitter feed), contributed to the win, scoring 15 points. The victory caps off a great day for the franchise, as its coach, Jerry Stackhouse, was named the D-League Coach of the Year this afternoon.

NBA D-League Assignments/Recalls: 4/17/17

Here are Monday’s D-League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

NBA D-League Assignments/Recalls: 4/14/17

Here are Friday’s assignments/recalls from around the league…

  • The Raptors assigned Bruno Caboclo and Pascal Siakam to Raptors 905, the team announced via Twitter (link). Caboclo and Siakam should pick up steady minutes for Raptors 905, as they take on the Maine Red Claws in the D-League Eastern Conference finals.
  • The Rockets recalled Chinanu Onuaku, Isaiah Taylor, and Kyle Wiltjer from the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the team announced via Twitter (link). All three players received 35+ minutes in Rio Grande’s Game 1 loss to the Blue on Thursday.
  • The Thunder recalled Josh Huestis from Oklahoma City Blue, the team announced in a press release. Huestis scored 11 points over 29 minutes with the Blue in the D-League playoffs last night.
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