NBA Pre-Draft Tour: Peyton Siva Workout
The Cardinal is hoping to provide an NBA team with some point guard help.
206. The area code for Seattle. Peyton Siva has it tatted on his arm, and many don’t realize it, but chances are that he wouldn’t have even been at ‘The Ville to lead them to a national championship if it weren’t for a fellow Seattle native opening his eyes to the Kentucky school.
“T-Will [Terrence Williams] went there, and I grew up working out with him,” Siva said. “Watching him play there made me really want to go Louisville. The funny thing is that they weren’t really recruiting me and I had to say, ‘Coach, I really like Louisville a lot’ to get them to come look at me. They watched me play, then offered me the next day.”
Smart move by Coach Pitino, as he wound up with a three-year starter who led vocally and by example. Siva was the type of point guard that every college coach dreamed of having. A guy who waited his turn, stuck around all four years, and led the team to victory. Like with most young lead guards, there was a maturation process. He had to make the transformation from a guy who lit it up every night at Franklin HS in the Emerald City to a guy whose role was to get his scorers the ball where they needed it in the Big East. It was a transition, but he got there.
“My first year it was tough because you’re used to looking to score, naturally, but then you also have to look to pass and you always don’t make the right reads,” Siva admitted of his change of roles. “This past year, a lot of people were like, ‘You need to come out your senior year and score all these points.”
He added, “To be honest, that wasn’t for me. We had a bunch of guys and couldn’t be selfish or egotistical. I wanted to get everyone the ball and get wins because at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters. My job was easy.”
The growth that Siva made on the court wasn’t necessarily reflected in the stat sheet. Never averaging more than 10 points or 6 assists per game, you weren’t looking at a guy who would light it up for your fantasy team. Instead, he gave you the things that didn’t show up in the stat sheet. As an upperclassman, he was the poised leader who could not only get his team fired up after a big play, but also get his teammates composed when things weren’t necessarily going their way. And the team won. A lot.
With five players on the team with NBA potential, playing point guard on a team like that isn’t as easy as it looks. Peyton had to know when to let Russ Smith bring the ball up the court, when to get the ball to Chane Behanan on the blocks, where to look for Luke Hancock, and when to get Gorgui Dieng a touch. The team went through it’s ups and downs throughout the season, finally hitting full stride during the Big East tourney.
“After we lost that five-overtime game to Notre Dame, we were really just trying to get everyone back on the same page. Once we got to the Big East tourney, we hit our stride,” Siva said. “There were less practices, we were just going out there and playing—and you can forget the last game. Win or lose, you bounce back and play. At the end of the day, we were talented enough that any one of us could have a big night.”
After the team bought in on the all-for-one mentality, it was nearly unbeatable. The Siva-led Cardinals won their final 16 games en route to the National Championship. In the process of doing so, Siva went from potential draftee to expected draftee. Signing with Andy Miller of ASM Sports, the 22-year-old took his game out to Las Vegas to train with Impact Basketball.
Looking to really focus on improving his jumper, Peyton enlisted the services of Joe Abunassar, Drew Moore and Co. Having never shot more than 30 percent from beyond the three-point line, it was an area of concern of most NBA teams. Spending an absurd amount of time getting reps up before and after workouts, we were able to peep the progress that he has made. It’s not the most effortless shot in the world, but there were days that he connected on more than three quarters of his makes from the NBA line. It’s something that he tells us he’s looking to show off to NBA teams, too.
“I just want to show people that I can shoot,” he said. “I’ve been doing a good job out here of making shots.”
Jumper aside, Siva weaved through all of the ball-handling drills with a speed unmatched by anyone in Vegas. He kept the ball on a string and went full speed at every drill without losing the pill. Much of the work that was done at Impact did not involve competitive situations, but Siva created competitive situations. He pushed his fellow potential draftees. He got them hyped when they made good plays. He picked them up when they made bad plays. More than any skill that he brought on the court physically, the positive energy that he brought to the gym was unquestionably his biggest attribute.
“Just my leadership,” Siva said when I asked him what the most valuable thing he was going to bring to an NBA team was. ”I’m going to go out there like it’s my last to show everyone that I can be that vocal leader. At the end of the day, it’s all about winning.”
By the time that the Draft rolls around, Siva will have had workouts with half of the League. Word on the street is that he has been shooting the rock well and impressing teams with interviews. There have still been concerns about his size (6-1 in shoes), but Siva feels that it isn’t your stature that makes you; it’s what you have inside your heart.
“For anyone who questions height, I really don’t think it matters as long as you have heart and come to play,” the uber-confident playmaker said. “You saw the way Isaiah Thomas came out and proved everyone wrong this year. Chris Paul is not the tallest guy out there either, but he is a truly amazing point guard. I think that if you have game and go out there playing with heart, you’ll be fine.”