How Pascal Siakam became a 3-point weapon for the Raptors

Aaron Rose

When Pascal Siakam walked off the court for the final time in the 2017-18 season he knew he had to get to work.

He had taken just one 3-point shot in Toronto's final playoff series, a four-game sweep by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The moment marked a turning point not just for the Toronto Raptors, who traded away franchise icon DeMar DeRozan and fired longtime head coach Dwane Casey, but also for Siakam.

During the 2017-18 season, Siakam took 132 3-pointers and made 22% of them, making him one of the worst 3-point shooter in the NBA. All but one of those shots were catch-and-shoot 3s, and his most effective spot was in the right corner, where he converted 31% of his 3-pointers.

A picture of his 2017-18 shot chart is below. Notice the dark blue in corners where Siakam struggled in 2017-18.

shotchart (4)
NBA.com/Stats

After that series sweep, Siakam hit the gym.

"I remember people were having exit meetings and stuff and the next day I was just like, 'man, I want to be a better shooter' like this is this was my thing," Siakam told TNT's Ernie Johnson Jr. during an interview on Twitter Wednesday night. "I knew you need to be able to shoot to fit on the floor, so, let's go."

Siakam said he spoke to new head coach Nick Nurse and the two got together focusing on Siakam's shooting form.

"I remember we had tape on the rim to have things to focus on," he said. "We just had like maybe thousands of practice shots and just form shooting every single day. And then it was corner threes, like that was the only thing we really did.

"We did that every single morning, we called (ourselves) The Breakfast Club, so we'd wake up until 6:00, 6:30, we were in the gym for about two hours and we were just getting shots up, come back and play in the afternoon. And we'd do that every single day. And it was just about a combination of being in the gym and taking shots, thousands of them, and then coming on the floor and playing an actual game and shooting just kind of like knowing that okay if you're open just shoot it."

When he came back to start the 2018-19 season, Siakam was a far more lethal weapon for the Raptors.

In 2018-19, Siakam took 312 3-point shots, making 37% of them. He converted 38% of his catch-and-shoot 3s and became a marksman in the corners, shooting 44% in the left corner and 39% in the right corner.

A picture of his 2018-19 shot chart is below. Notice the orange in the corners where Siakam became an above-average 3-point shooter.

shotchart (5)
NBA.com/Stats

This season, Siakam has taken his game to an even higher level and he's become one of the top 10-20 players in the NBA. The question now is how will it end and what will he do this summer to keep those jumps coming.

Aaron Rose covers the Toronto Raptors and Canadian basketball for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter @aaronbenrose or on Facebook @AllRaptors.

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