Don’t ask Peyton Siva to reveal his favorite moment from the past four months. He would get in too much trouble. A recipient of joy overload, he can’t possibly rank all the triumphs.
First, he won most outstanding player honors for the second straight year in the Big East Conference Tournament. Then the former Franklin High School star guided Louisville to the men’s basketball national title. Then he graduated from college and got engaged to his girlfriend.
Siva’s latest joyous moment came Thursday, when the Detroit Pistons selected him in the second round of the NBA draft. If you consider that a fitting capstone to a helluva year, you’d be mistaken. Siva is getting married in July.
The next time you want to buy lottery tickets, ask Siva to make the purchase.
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“It’s been great,” Siva said of his success spurt. “It’s been awesome. It’s definitely a lot. It’s moving fast, but I’m enjoying every moment. I feel so blessed.”
Siva spent Thursday night with his fiancée at his Louisville, Ky., apartment, nervous that he might not get drafted. True to his character and humility, he didn’t want to make a big deal of draft night because he knew that this one day wouldn’t define his professional career. He would have to work, whether he was picked or not. As a projected second-rounder, he knew he’d likely be without a guaranteed contract. So instead of premature celebration, he was already intent on earning his way into the NBA.
But Siva had another desire, too, something he had dreamed about since he started competing against pro and college basketball players as a teenager. He wanted to make the NBA not just for himself but in order to join the elite and ever-growing fraternity of Seattle/Tacoma-area players who are playing the game at the highest level. It is the top rung of a group that calls itself the Home Team.
Ever since Siva proved that he had game as a youngster, he has been mentored and encouraged by this close-knit group. He has received advice from Brandon Roy and Jamal Crawford. When he wanted to improve after his sophomore season at Louisville, Jason Terry invited him to Dallas, along with Isaiah Thomas, and the two trained with JT even while the veteran was helping the Mavericks win the 2011 NBA title.
Siva sounds as if he’s near tears when he explains what it means to have his name added to the list of homebred NBA draft picks. Pey-Pey, as they call him, is continuing the tradition that has made Seattle a hoops hotbed.
“Man, it’s a great feeling, and I’ve worked my whole life for it,” he said. “I just wanted to get good enough to have a chance. I just wanted an opportunity. And now, if I can make it, I will join the fraternity of Seattle NBA players. I could be one of the leaders, so to speak, in our basketball family. That’s incredible to me.”
At least one homegrown player has been selected in eight of the past 10 drafts. Despite two Final Four appearances and a national title at Louisville, Siva had to wait until the final picks to hear his name. He was the 56th overall selection in the 60-pick draft, but Detroit stayed true to its intrigue.
The Pistons were among the first teams to hold a private workout with Siva during the predraft process, and after that tryout, they expressed their appreciation of his talent. Late in the draft, Detroit president Joe Dumars didn’t pass up a final chance to take him.
Siva can make this Pistons team. Two of Detroit’s point guards, Jose Calderon and Will Bynum, are unrestricted free agents. That leaves Brandon Knight as the Pistons’ primary point guard, while former Kentwood High School and Eastern Washington star Rodney Stuckey can play either point or shooting guard. Siva doesn’t just have an opportunity in Detroit; the Pistons have a need. His quickness, athleticism and leadership can help fill that void.
Critics will point to Siva’s poor outside shooting in college (only 29 percent on three-pointers) and declare he isn’t a good enough shooter to make it in the NBA. Others will say that he plays too fast sometimes and has fits of turnovers and silly fouls. But he’s also a hard worker who will continue to evolve.
“I definitely shot the ball a lot better in workouts than people thought I could,” Siva said. “There are a lot of point guards who can’t shoot when they enter the NBA. Tony Parker couldn’t shoot. Now, look at him. There are so many guys — Rajon Rondo, John Wall, Jrue Holiday, Russell Westbrook, Ricky Rubio. But if you work at it, you will become a better shooter.
“At Louisville, it wasn’t my job to score. In high school, it was my job to score, and I was more aggressive and shot better. In college, running the team was my main focus.”
It wouldn’t be a surprise if Siva develops into a quality backup point guard who can energize his team and change the pace of a game. If he becomes that, he will exceed the expectations of a No. 56 pick. Considering what Siva has accomplished thus far, considering how he overcame a tough childhood and became his family’s bedrock, there’s no use doubting him now.
His entire life won’t always be as charmed as the past four months. But he’ll find a way to succeed. He’ll make the Home Team proud.
He always does.
Jerry Brewer: 206-464-2277 or firstname.lastname@example.org.