Are Siakam’s volume shooter stats why the Warriors “covet” him?
[hopefully the last trade scenario piece]
With Pascal Siakam passing through town, especially after our Lauri Markkanen “Make-A-Wish” piece (all due respect to the good people actually doing God’s work with the real Make-A-Wish Foundation), I thought it would be helpful to have a discussion about Siakam as a potential target. Some immediate Game notes about him from last night’s live chat, embedded above:
10m20 Q1 Siakam missed 3
9m55 Q1 Siakam leaks out 94 ft after JK miss 3
6m05 Q1 but Siakam scores down low again
4m45 Q1 Siakam corner 3
2m22 Q1 Saric smothered by Siakam but Loon putback
10m30 Q3 Siakam swats Dario
8m58 Q3 Siakam 3 catch
8m05 Q3 Siakam hangs in air, 5th assist to Poeltl
4m18 Q3 Siakam TD catch
2m50 Q3 Siakam ATO down low
1m03 Q3 JK vs Siakam, who managed to not foul JK the first time, then JK got the foul
0m40 Q3 JK vs Siakam again, good drive, clean block?
Overall an impressive performance by him, imo. And I think, once again, it’s best to recap how we got here, then mention generally why Siakam would be a target and finally, what a trade package might look like, if indeed the Dubs wanted to pull the trigger, as follows (Table of Contents):
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How did we get here?
Who would be in the deal?
HOW DID WE GET HERE?
As described in the Markkanen scenario, the trade deadline is upon us (Feb. 8th) and the Warriors are still struggling at 17 wins, 19 losses. Granted, Draymond Green has been reinstated and will return sooner than later, but the fact remains: no NBA oddsmaker has Golden State as a realistic championship contender right now.
I began discussing Siakam back on our Dec. 28th livestream (click to see Game Notes, in the middle of MIA-GSW because we had introduced the Markannen idea). Even back then, the Warriors had just dropped to 15-16 after the loss to the Heat. I had told viewers that we probably wouldn’t have to shake up the roster via trade if we were 18-16 after the Jan. 4th rematch with Denver.
I figured Mike Dunleavy, Jr. would need about a month to cultivate the trade market, although as we should know and I’ve often said, the whole job of being a GM is to keep tabs on everything at all times. But obviously the chances of the Warriors making a deal by this trade deadline are far greater than in years’ past with Bob Myers’ rosters.
Even back on Dec. 30th getting to 18-16 after the home game against the Nuggets a week later seemed ominous; by Jan. 2nd after the Dallas loss, the stated benchmark would be mathematically impossible to reach as we fell to 15-17 that night.
Add to that the Dec. 14th Dunleavy interview from practice at UCLA before the Clippers game, where he said the next 15-20 games would be part of the evaluation of the team heading into the month before the trade deadline:
We were 10-13 at the time of that interview. Doing the math, today before the Toronto game we are 17-19 and have therefore gone 7-6 in 13 games since Dunleavy mentioned the 15-20 games. We’re inching closer to that window, so we might as well introduce another trade scenario.
On Dec. 30th, Toronto GM Masai Ujiri traded OG Anunoby to New York, leading NBA observers to conclude that Ujiri is finally willing to part with core pieces of the franchise and start fresh by building around Scottie Barnes.
Still on Dec. 30th, on the heels of the Anunoby trade announcement, Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area — incidentally I just attached an update from the Jonathan Kuminga post on what my specific problem was with NBCSBA’s site (the interstitial ads, not the writers, of course) — tweeted, “I know of a team that has coveted Siakam - to varying degrees - for a couple years.” This was in response to long-time Raptors beatwriter Michael Grange’s note that any Siakam extension from Ujiri would have serious tax implications, now that the Anunoby deal had returned Immanuel Quickley and RJ Barrett (3 years, $82 million remaining).
Actually, on Dec. 28th I had rejected the idea of Siakam under the premise that if he were a star making roughly $12 million more than Andrew Wiggins, he should be able to lead the Raps to a much better record consistently year-over-year than we’d seen since the departure of Kawhi Leonard after the 2019 Finals.
But then I thought about it more and concluded that, from what I remember of that series, Siakam seemed to do an exemplary job of complementing the main superstar (Kawhi), probably one of the reasons why GSW brass has coveted him. By thatI mean that Pascal doesn’t need any plays run for him which is a big deal in Golden State, as I recently wrote:
As we saw last night, a lot of Siakam’s buckets were later in the shotclock and of the “take what they give you” variety. Obviously, these are very “eye-test”-driven conclusions, so far.
By the Dec. 30th livechat of DAL-GSW, I’d placed the discussion of Siakam front and center as the first topic to be talked about the moment we went live before tipoff. Siakam has been growing on me ever since, although I haven’t watched him play this season yet.
And finally, after last night’s debacle against the Raptors, Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweeted this particularly damning stat: “Wiggins was a -29 last night. The Warriors are -150 with him on the floor this season and +157 with him off the floor. It's one of the various rotation issues they are trying and currently failing to solve.” And so this fact would only fuel trade rumors, especially involving someone like Siakam who plays Wiggins’ exact role.
Our audience is divided on Siakam, although there might be recency bias as I tend to think many in DubNation were very impressed by his performance in the 2019 Finals. Some in our live chat say Pascal would make us an “instant contender,” especially with the return of Green. But then some observers tell me that “he can’t shoot,” which is of course a prerequisite for the Steve Kerr System utilizing the gravity of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, not to mention the “heartbeat” of Draymond.
So I took a look at Siakam’s three-point shooting and discovered some interesting stats. You see, on the Dubs, you shoot more threes if you’re a wing on the floor shared by Curry and Thompson. And it’s funny because I wouldn’t have thought to research this had it not been for Travis Walton, Dray’s trainer, telling me last year his theory of Dray’s drop in 3PP over the last couple years: the lack of volume shooting.
He said Green only shooting one or two threes per game was affecting his rhythm. We’ve already had a couple games this season where it seems like Walton was right, where Draymond was hitting multiple threes. Here’s an old interview we had with Travis that touches on Green’s three-point shooting:
One quick look at Siakam’s stats on bkref and you’ll see that he doesn’t take a lot of threes per game: 3.6 this season, 4.0 last season, 3.2 in 2021-22, and 4.4 in 2020-21. What’s startling is he took 6.1 threes per game in 2019-20. In their championship season of 2018-19 with Kawhi, Pascal shot only 2.7 threes per game, but at a clip of 36.9%. He even shot 3-for-6 from the arc in Game 6 at Oracle, after going 0-for-12 in Games 2 through 5 — he went 2-for-3 in Game 1, in case you’re wondering (also 2-for-3 last night). In the 2019 Playoffs overall, he shot 29-for-104 on threes which was only 27.9%, but also an increase to 4.3 threes attempted per game, much higher than his regular season of the aforementioned 2.7.
Maybe I’ll track down a Raptors blogger or beatwriter and try to find out why his threes per game shot up to 6.1 attempts in the season after winning a ring. Anyways, it’s tailed off since.
So I took a look at Pascal’s percentages when he shoots at least six threes in a game and they are quite intriguing [NOTE: All numbers have not been audited.]:
In 2023-24, Siakam is 13-for-29 (44.8%) 👀 on threes in games when he shoots six or more threes. Small sample size but seemingly “reliable” a la Draymond this year who is 18-for-42 overall on threes (42.9%).
In 2022-23, he was 39-for-103 (37.9%) in these scenarios. That’s pretty good for a wing.
In 2021-22, he was 16-for-39 (41.0%) 🤯 in those scenarios. That’s Klay territory.
Now, do all players or, let’s say, wings in the NBA experience an uptick in 3PP when they get to shoot six or more threes in a game? I’m not gonna spend anymore time on this analysis right now, but I do grant you the possibility that there is some huge caveat to this.
And how did I come up with six three-point attempts as the definition of “volume three-point shooter”? I don’t know, I kind of looked at Siakam’s game log and came up with that, as well as the fact that Kuminga and Wiggins average 2.4 (at 27.7%) and 3.2 (at 30.3%) threes attempted per game this year, respectively, or 5.6 when added up together. And lo and behold, Wiggins actually averaged 6.1 three-point attempts in 2022-23!
Granted, figuring out how many Siakam would shoot as a Warrior might not be as simple as taking Wiggs’ attempts from last season, or adding JK’s and Wiggs’ together (5.6 or, you know, 6) from this season, but it’s probably close enough.
Just in case, here are Pascal’s numbers for five or more threes per game instead of six:
In 2023-24, he’s 26-for-69 (37.7%) total in games where he shoots five or more threes.
In 2022-23, he was 56-for-170 (32.9%) in such scenarios.
In 2021-22, he was 29-for-74 (39.2%) in such scenarios.
The difference between shooting five threes per game versus six is actually quite startling for Pascal this season and last (i.e., other than the small difference of 41.2% to 39.2% two seasons ago). I’ll just leave it at that.
These are all hand-wavy stats and I haven’t researched corner vs. elbow threes nor looked at game film to see what kinds of threes our wings get as compared to what kinds of threes Siakam has gotten. Looks like from last night, they are somewhat random — he even took one at the top of the arc which is rare for wings, but all still consistent with his aforementioned complementary style.
But maybe we’re onto something. Maybe Golden State’s front office has known this. They do have an in-house full-time analytics guru.
Obviously notwithstanding the elite wing skills that helped earned the now 29-year-old, 6’8”, 230-lb Siakam his 4-year $136 million contract (which expires this year; $38 million this year whereas Wiggins is at $26 million this season):
an incredible 7’3” wingspan originally listed with a height of 6’10” by DraftExpress in 2016,
a lithe frame that allows him to step past defenders,
and 22-and-7 (points and rebounds) per night average over the past five years.
And Steve used to rave how Wiggs would “fall out of bed and score 18” (bumped down from “20” from before 2022 when it became more apparent that his role on this squad was to rebound and play defense).
Siakam the seven-year vet is currently 17th in the NBA in free throw attempts (Steph happens to be 20th, the only such appearance all career) and has been in the Top 20 in that category for three straight years at a clip of 77.2% over Pascal’s career.
Speaking of free throws, as we know from the game “ManningCast” livestreams where we often lament our free throw shooting (you too, Kevon Looney!), JK is shooting just 69.5% from the line this season while Wiggs is at 69.3%.
Pascal has been an All-Star in 2020 and 2023, All-NBA 2nd Team in 2020 and 3rd Team in 2022 (both times with Chris Paul on those same teams, ironically), and has led the league in minutes played the last two seasons before this, currently 8th this season. He ranked 15th in All-Defense voting in 2019 and 19th in 2020.
We all know how good JK has been at the rim this season. His 2-point FGP is 58.7%. Siakam? The exact same. Wiggs is at a 47.7% and has never been higher than 53.0% (2022-23).
As far as rebounding, normalizing all three players in this discussion to “Per-36”, Wiggs is at a career-high right now at 5.8 rebounds per 36 minutes, JK is at 6.6 (career per-36 of 6.5, which might be a little surprising to some of us), and Pascal is at a career-low of 6.7 per-36 this season, tailing off from a career-high of 8.1 in 2021-22 and 7.5 last year. All of which are higher rebounding averages per-36 than Wiggins or Kuminga.
To be fair, I ran some numbers on volume threes for Wiggs and JK. First of all, Andrew averaged 6.1 threes per game last season and shot his highest percentage of his career at 39.6%. Ironically — and maybe Warriors fans don’t even know this — Wiggs’ averages are higher all across the board in nearly every statistical category in 2022-23 than his “second-best player in the Finals” run of 2021-22.
Anyways, if Wiggs was averaging 6.1 three-point attempts in 2022-23 at a career-high of 39.6%, can we just take those numbers as “volume” stats? I think that compares favorably with Siakam, who from the numbers above is a combined 66-for-168 in all games over the last three years with six or more threes attempted. That’s 39.3%.
Obviously, Kuminga’s “volume threes” sample size is small. He only has a few games where he shot six or more threes: 4-for-6 on 12/18/2021, 2-for-6 on 2/1/2022, 2-for-6 on 2/9/2023, 4-for-12 on 11/21/2022, 4-for-6 on 1/27/2023, 4-for-7 on 3/18/2023, and 3-for-6 on 12/8/2023. The combined total here is 23-for-49 or 46.9% on threes in which he shot six or more threes. Again, small sample size. Over the same three years, Siakam has more than three times as many instances of attempting six triples in a game as JK has.
Can Siakam be fluid in the 0.5-Basketball system? I think I can picture it, just being that long, gifted, skilled athlete with insane wingspan. He’s already been a complement to a superstar before and he has a ring to show for it, which is probably something Joe and Kirk Lacob and Dunleavy give more credence to than most.
So the above is everything I now know about Siakam, analyzing volume three-point shooting because that’s what he’s been criticized for and it directly relates to integrating with our SplashBrothers. Should I discover more through game tape or scouting reports or hearsay, I’ll let you know in a future piece.
All this talk of Wiggs and JK probably has you wondering who I think would be in a deal for Siakam. With Siakam’s $37.9 million salary this season, as I understand it, the Warriors being above the first tax apron would be restricted to sending out no less than $34.5 million (i.e., 110% per CBA rules). That means Wiggs or CP3 has to be in the deal, obviously.
It’d be neat to maybe get Otto Porter, Jr. back — he’s getting his 2022 Finals ring at the game with Draymond present, btw — and the Raptors do have some interesting players like Dennis Schroeder, while 6’10” wing Jalen McDaniels is only making $4.5 million and could be snuck in a blockbuster trade. Check out Toronto’s salary cap table for the full list of players, but also try to remember that our roster is pretty set and integrating into the “get the ball to Steph or Klay via Dray” paradigm has typically come with a steep learning curve for your average young guy.
There would have to be some certainty that Siakam would stay with the Dubs, of course. Can’t let him walk as an unrestricted free agent this summer, but then again his extension would hurtle us deeper into the tax, although it’s probably a safe bet we’ll re-sign Klay at a discount closer to Dray’s number.
One thing to help with the fuzzy number math at this point, for those ppd you not equipped with a salary cap spreadsheet: Klay is making $43 million this year and a Siakam extension is probably about $50 million — and we’re not over the second apron this year, meaning some cap gymnastics could probably fit Pascal, considering CP and Wiggs’ contracts as well, but obviously I, you know, don’t have a cap spreader in front of me.
Without delving too far into all that, I’d say if the whole goal is to win a ring “at all costs” while Steph is still in his prime, I mean, getting Siakam at the risk of him leaving still falls under that category of “timelines be damned”, does it not? Again, this is assuming Pascal does indeed make the Warriors a serious contender (of course, I’m thinking that he does, based on the first-pass stats work above).
It goes without saying, almost no fan who bleeds blue and gold wants to give up Kuminga. I don’t either, but with CP3 injured — although he’s still an expiring contract which can be valuable to a team below the luxury tax — and especially Ujiri acting like he drives a hard bargain, I just think Masai is gonna want JK in the deal.
An NBA agent recently told me when the Anunoby deal was made, “I have no idea what Toronto is thinking right now. I never know with Ujiri. He’s all over the place. He let Fred Van Vleet leave for nothing.”
Long-time Warriors fans like myself have suffered through many an athletic phenom trade-aways: Jason Richardson, Latrell Sprewell before that, Mitch Richmond before that, and heck I’ll even mention John Starks! Losing Kuminga would be tough, super-tough. But at least Siakam is quite a physical specimen himself, if not known for being a pogo stick.
Our friend Grange from Poole’s tweet, mentioned way at the beginning of this article, has the simplest math in a post he made one day before the TOR-GSW game: https://www.sportsnet.ca/nba/article/trading-siakam-to-warriors-makes-some-sense-but-it-may-not-be-a-perfect-fit/
Add Paul’s expiring $30.8 million contract to the $6 million Kuminga is on the books for this year and you come up with an almost perfect salary match for the $37.8 million Siakam is earning in the last year of his deal. The Raptors come to a buyout agreement with Paul, he gets waived, and the Hall-of-Fame-bound veteran guard gets to choose his preferred destination as a late-season free agent when his hand heals up.
Grange also reveals a tidbit that might make Warriors fans happy:
And a not insignificant detail is that Kuminga is said to have a very close relationship with Warriors owner Joe Lacob who has historically been reluctant to part with any of the young talent that represents the Warriors' so-called ‘two-timelines’ strategy of meshing a group of young draftees with their established championship core.
Trading James Wiseman last season was a tough sell, and the former No. 2-overall pick had only ever struggled with the Warriors. Moving on from Kuminga, taken seventh overall in 2021, just as he seems poised to harness his undeniable talent into a breakout season, is virtually a no-go.
But then Grange also thinks Ujiri wouldn’t want Wiggs:
But if Kuminga was not on the table, it would be a mistake to assume the Raptors would be in a rush to take on the remaining three years and $82 million that Andrew Wiggins has on his contract, given the positional and contractual overlap with newly acquired RJ Barrett. Paying nearly $50 million a season to a pair of GTA (Greater Toronto Area) small forwards is probably not prudent cap management.
I don’t know, I would think Masai would get some applause for landing a couple Canadians back in Toronto in Barrett and Wiggs, possibly. It sure would be the softest landing ever for Wiggins.
But getting Siakam and sending Wiggs or JK (probably not both, as it would leave GSW with only one wing) seems like the basis of a deal. And with Siakam on the Warriors, the stats analyses above seem to show some improvement in key areas such as availability, rebounding, two-point field goal percentage and free throw shooting. Again, his volume three-point shooting to fit the Warriors’ organic system seems to be in line with Wiggs’.
As far as the other possible pieces in a deal, Grange does mention that Barnes and Moses Moody used to be high school teammates at Montverde Academy. Overall, I can’t picture a trade for Siakam involving anyone beyond CP, Wiggs, JK and/or Moody.
But I don’t wanna get lost in what-ifs. After I hit “publish” on this one, I’m not engaging in anymore new trade theories until there is something more real. I’m going back to my mantra of trying to avoid CRAP (comparisons, rankings, awards, predictions). In this trade market before us, I can’t think of anyone beyond Siakam or Markkanen that would improve our squad, if we’re all-in on The Trinity, i.e., Steph, Klay and Dray are untouchable.
So I’m just gonna sit back and root for my team, whoever happens to be on it any given night, and put my trust in Dunleavy and the Lacobs, with buy-in from Steve, Steph and Dray, whatever they decide is best for the franchise.
And I think I’ve done my job here. Getting Pascal Siakam would be intriguing and not out of the question, stats-wise.
ADDENDUM: SIAKAM, WIGGS, JK
[Added on Jan 10th just to cover all bases]
• On TheRally: The Raptors are ramping up trade talks surrounding star forward Pascal Siakam, with a Western Conference playoff contender emerging as a serious suitor. (Shams Charania)
• 2.5 hours later: The Sacramento Kings are deciding to pull out of the Pascal Siakam talks, sources say. Things can be fluid, but Kings-Raptors talks are now over. (Shams Charania)
• There days later: I’m told the Raptors and Kings were in active conversations about a Pascal Siakam trade revolving around Harrison Barnes… At this point, the only way it ignites is if Toronto comes back to Sacramento. (Shams Charania)
• Andrew Wiggins was a -29 last night (vs Toronto, which I will cover in a future post). The Warriors are -150 with him on the floor this season and +157 with him off the floor. It's one of the various rotation issues they are trying and currently failing to solve.
• Marc Stein on Dubs Talk with Monte Poole and Dalton Johnson of NBC Sports Bay Area: “When I talk to other teams more and more, I'm hearing that there's an anticipation now that the Warriors will be open to trading Andrew Wiggins because Wiggins and [Jonathan] Kuminga, when they've played together, the Warriors would be the first to tell you it hasn't gone well.”
• “There are higher ups in this organization who are infatuated with Kuminga and are not ready to part with him,” ESPN's Kendra Andrews said on The Lowe Post (28:20 mark). (Tyler Conway, BleacherReport)