Peyton Siva is a 27 year old 183cm point guard from Seattle, Washington playing his fifth professional season and second with Alba Berlin. Currently he is averaging 13,4ppg, 2,2rpg and 5,3apg. Last season with Alba Berlin he averaged 9.4ppg, 1.9rpg, 4.8apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 47.8%, 3PT: 40.7%, FT: 83.8%; and in the Eurocup averaged 11.3ppg, 2.8rpg, Assists-3(6.3apg), Steals-2(2.0spg), FGP: 53.5%, 3PT: 44.7%, FT: 86.7%. In his first season in Europe in 2015-2016 he played with Pasta Reggia JuveCaserta (Italy-Serie A) playing 21 games averaging 13.3ppg, 2.7rpg, Assists-1(6.5apg), Steals-1(2.0spg), FGP: 43.2%, 3PT: 30.3%, FT-1(91.9%). He played his first two professional seasons in the G-League with Fort Wayne and Erie and played 22 NBA games with the Detroit Pistons. He played at Louisville from 2009-2013 playing a total of 144 games and as a senior helped them win the NCAA title and played 40 games averaging 10.0ppg, 2.4rpg, 5.7apg, 2.3spg, FGP: 47.6%, 3PT: 28.8%, FT: 86.7%. He spoke to German Hoops before the BBL game against Science City Jena in Jena.
Peyton thanks for talking to German Hoops. A sweep of Bamberg, the cup top 4 around the corner and a second place in the BBL standings, how good is basketball life now?
It´s really good. I am enjoying being around my teammates and playing in a good environment. Coach Aito makes it a good environment to play basketball.
There aren´t many players that can say that they swept Bamberg in a season. How good does it feel having had their number this season?
It feels good. Those were two very big wins. You always want to get those tough wins out of the way when going into the playoffs. It was great getting these wins, but we are focusing on the next game against Jena.
You were the best player on the floor scoring 25 points. Do you feel like you took your game to another level?
It was just me playing with confidence. Coach Aito put me in a position where I could play with confidence. But my teammates like Spencer Butterfield also were a big factor making big shots in helping getting this win.
What is wrong with Brose Bamberg this season? You have seen them twice. Some say the coach isn´t reaching his players, while you can also say the team wasn´t put together correctly and the departures of Miller, Theis and Mello have affected them most.
They lost many very important players, but also the guards Causeur and Strelnieks. They brought in many new players and that takes time for them to get adjusted with each other. I feel that they have the individual talent to be able to pull together and make a run.
Alba Berlin is in Jena preparing for another BBL game. You crushed them 100-67 before Christmas. Was that a perfect example of how Alba Berlin basketball should be played in 2018?
They will be refocused to play us again after that loss. Alba basketball is free flowing where we share the ball and have trust in each other. We all strive to keep working hard and continuing to get better. We stick to the principles of coach Aito and have fun on the court.
Alba Berlin is playing a lot better than last season. One can´t only point fingers and say that Caki was the main reason for the demise last season and the experience of Aito has been the main reason. What do you believe has led to the positive turn around this season?
We have many new players with a new philosophy and all have bought into the new system. The team is caring and sharing the ball and just enjoying basketball. That is something that coach Aito stresses to have fun on the court. The most important thing for me has been being healthy again for the most part. Thank God I didn´t have another real serious injury this season like last season. Just staying healthy has been the biggest thing for me this season.
Everyone is talking about the dominance of FC Bayern Munich and the demise of Bamberg and less of Alba Berlin. Does the team feel less pressure and is it a title team this season and could it have enough for a 5 game series against Munich?
I always feel no matter where I play that we are a title team. We don´t mind not being in the headlines. We play without pressure and that is a reflection on our coach who doesn´t put pressure on us, or bombard us with information, but just lets us play. Coach stresses that if we win isn´t the best or if we lose isn´t the worst, but the most important thing is that we continue to get better.
Alba Berlin has had its problems with medi Bayreuth for years and lost it´s first game against them. They face them in the BBL cup, but in a neutral place in Ulm. You have seen the rise of this team in the last two seasons. Are they the best example of success when you are able to build chemistry?
I´m not really so sure about their past, but I always thought that they were one of the best teams in Germany. I knew two players from last season with Trey Lewis and Kyan Anderson and they are great players and so talented. I was able to play for coach Korner at the 2018 Allstar game and he is a great coach. The coach understands basketball and his players and when his players are able to buy into his system, you can go very far as a team. Medi Bayreuth is a really good team.
The only negative point this season was the departure from the Eurocup. In the round of 16, the team struggled defensively. Why didn´t the team have enough in this competition?
I feel that our injuries had a negative effect on our performances. We had Spencer Butterfield and Bogdan Radosavljevic out for some time. I also was injured for some time. We played some very good teams also. I felt that we could of beat any of those teams, but they were simply better. It just wasn´t our time.
Everyone marvels around Luke Sikma. He is about as versatile as a power forward can get. You were in the NBA. Why isn´t he there and what do you appreciate most about his play?
I don´t know why Luke isn´t in the NBA. He is a very talented player and very smart on the court that makes the right reads. He has a very good knack for rebounding and he has become a lot better shooter. He is also a tremendous passer and can play the positions 1-5. He makes my job a lot easier and he is a great guy off the court.
How much easier does it make for your game when you have a very versatile sniper in Spencer Butterfield who you can feed the ball to and know that it will lead to success?
It was tough for us when he was out for a long time this season. It is always good to play with a knock down shooter like him. When he is open and he shoots, you know it´s going to go in.
Let´s talk about your game? You’re a point guard that can do many things. If you had to compare your game to a NBA player who would best fit your game?
I´m not sure. I can´t compare myself like that. My game is different. But I like to watch various guys in the NBA like Isaiah Thomas, Damien Lillard or Rajon Rondo and how he passes the ball. I also like to watch how Ricky Rubio plays off the pick and roll. I watch a variety and try to add a little of all to my game.
You’re a guy that is totally fearless on the court. Where do you feel did this basketball trait come from?
It comes from playing football. My whole family played football. I´m not scared of anything. Size and contact doesn´t bother me, but it is normal for me.
You put up similar stats in your first season in Europe with Pasta Reggia JuveCaserta (Italy-Serie A). But your playing 8 minutes less this season. Do you feel as if your playing your best basketball ever since you came overseas?
I think so. I was never really healthy in my first two seasons overseas. In Italy I had torn my hamstring and last season, I was out in the second half. Important for me has been learning to do more in less minutes. It has been a big adjustment coming to Europe not getting 30 plus minutes especially when you are with a top team. Guys are always looking at stats, but at the end of the day it´s not about that. Important is too just play hard and do as much as you can in the minutes that you get. That mindset really helped me this season and coach gave me the freedom and confidence to just play my game this season.
How important was the growing pains last season with Alba Berlin? The team was struggling and you had injury woes. What did you learn about yourself last season?
I got a chance last season to really watch a lot and learned what I can do to help my team. It was a mental game last season. I learned that you have to mentally stay ready. I´m happy how I have been able to bounce back this season. I have shown this season what I am really made of. But I know that I still have to work hard and continue to get better. I didn´t loose confidence in the way I know how to play.
What was your wake up call to being overseas for the first time playing for Pasta Reggia JuveCaserta (Italy-Serie A) where you knew that you were very far away from home in Seattle?
The biggest wake up call was the language barrier. No one spoke English in Caserta. It was tough to communicate at first especially in restaurants. But once I started to hang around teammates, I picked up key phrases and then it became easier. My rookie season was an overall good experience.
It doesn´t matter which players I have spoken to in the last years that have been teammates with Bobby Jones, all have stated that he had a huge impact on them when they were teammates. How did he make your rookie season a better experience?
He made it really easy for me and really helped me a lot. It also made it easy that I had known him before I had arrived because he also comes from Seattle. He knew everything from how to communicate, knew the business side and taught me how to be a professional. I still talk to him to this day. Another guy that also really helped me was Linton Johnson who played in the NBA and for many years in Italy. He also taught me how to be a professional. I really appreciate those guys.
You played in the states in your first two professional seasons in the G-League and NBA. You came out of Louisville a NCAA champion and one of top ranked players. You were drafted only at #56 in the second round. Did you expect to be a first rounder and had that happened do you feel like your professional career would have gone different?
I am not sure. I always thought I was one of the best players coming out of the NCAA and that I can play with anyone. I thought that I played well down the stretch with the Detroit Pistons, but they changed management and wanted to go in another direction. It was all about timing and luck. But I´m perfectly happy with where I am in Europe with Alba Berlin. I am meeting great people here and traveling the world. The NBA will always be a dream. Most important for me is to continue to work hard and develop my game and hope to get back to the NBA one day.
In your rookie season you played 22 games for the Detroit Pistons. When you look back at that time, do you feel like your opportunity had more to do with numbers than your actual performances and skill?
When I got there for the stretch run, there were 3-4 guards before me so there wasn´t much playing opportunity. I thought that I had played well in the G-league and the front office also had felt that. Unfortunately it was not what the next management wanted.
What was it like playing under Philadelphia 76er legend Mo Cheeks. What do you feel was the most important piece of advice that you got from him that you have used until this day?
I talked a few times to Mo. I learned how to approach the game from him. I worked out with Chauncy Billups a few times and Mo was there. Mo told me you always have to work, work, work. It was important seeing his passion and just seeing how this legend was able to install his work ethic in others really impressed me and helped my game.
You last played NBA Summer League in 2015. Have you put the NBA on the back burner? Was the NBA just not meant to be?
The NBA isn´t on the back burner. If it´s there, it´s there. But the NBA isn´t something that I will live or die over. The most important thing for me is to put me and my family in the best position to make as much money playing basketball.
You played for Louisville from 2009-2013. How thankful are you still today for that talk that you had with Rick Pitino your junior year where he told you to take a relationship sabbatical. After that you were reborn on the court. Did that time change your basketball life?
I remember coach Pitino telling me not to read too much what people are saying. I had a rough patch my junior year where I had been injured and hadn´t been playing well. Pitino told me that people have a short term memory. He said if you have a bad stretch and then a good stretch, then they will forget the bad stretch. At the end of my junior year, I had a really good stretch and I was able to take that into my senior year. That was really big for me.
How important was a guy like Russ Smith for you and how did he benefit from your presence?
Russ was great for me. He was a great person off the court and one of my good friends. We fed off each other well and just knew what the other guy would do. He could go for 20 points in one half in only a span of 5-8 minutes. That was really great.
What was the most incredible thing that you remember Kyle Kuric doing on the court that you will never forget?
There were so many. Kyle is so athletic and can shoot the ball with the best of them. I think my biggest moment from him and he probably will say the same was when he dunked over a Notre Dame guy and then got a technical for staring at him. He is also a great person. I check in on him all the time.
In the 82-76 NCAA win over Michigan you were one of the best players on the court with 18 points. Does the fact that guys like Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr are in the NBA give you that chip on your shoulder or can you block out any thoughts like that?
That doesn´t concern me. I don´t worry about them, but worry only about myself and how I can be in the best position and be able to succeed. They are great players and I´m happy for their success. It is great how Trey Burke has resurrected his career after going to the G-league and then signing with the New York Knicks. Tim Hardaway recently signed a big contract.
How did Rick Pitino groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
He just told me to work hard each day and get better each day. He put that into every player at Louisville. He wanted every player to have a strong work ethic.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Russ Smith?
Russ won. It wasn´t like I didn´t win, but he had more wins.
You played against so many great players in the NCAA, but who was the toughest guy that you battled that is in the NBA now?
Kemba Walker and Trey Burke. I did play against John Wall, but only 3 minutes so I didn´t really battle him.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you chose?
I´m going with current players and I´m Seattle biased. Isaiah Thomas, Jamal Crawford, Aaron Brooks, Jason Terry.
Lebron James failed to win his fourth NBA title and is still three away from Michael Jordan. Where does Lebron stand right now in your opinion in the never ending debate of who is the best of all-time?
I´m always going to go with Michael Jordan, because of his legacy. But Lebron is right behind him. I think that Lebron is the only guy that you could put on any team and that team would be an automatic title contender. He is such a special player. He never had a serious injury. He is just a well-oiled machine where you always know exactly what you will get from him.
There has been criticism of Russell Westbrook to be focusing more on rebounding to help inflate his stats and possibilities of getting triple doubles instead of focusing on his defensive assignments. Do you feel that this is a fair assessment to the player Russell Westbrook?
He is always trying to win. He is one of the most fiercest competitors in the game. Do you know how hard it is to get a triple double? All try to stack their stats. It is a lot easier said than done.
How do you summarize the 2017 NBA Draft. What sleepers do you see playing a role in the NBA?
Kyle Kuzma and Donovan Mitchell.
Where will the journey of the Houston Rockets go this season with Chris Paul and James Harden in the back court. Do they have enough to make a serious run at the title or is something missing?
The Rockets are deep enough to compete with Golden State. Golden State isn´t unbeatable. But it will be hard to beat them in a 7 game series. You can´t discredit what the Rockets have done or what they could do in the playoffs.
How do you rate the Kyrie Irving-Isaiah Thomas trade? Who got the better deal and which team will profit better in the long run?
Since the Cavs trades Thursday, the deal was good for Boston. Boston has a great system and coach with Brad Stevens. Kyrie has fit right in nicely with Boston. It is unfair to criticize Isaiah because he was injured for 7 months with the Cavs. He wasn´t the same player when he came back. You have to give him time so he can become the allstar he once was.
Where will the journey of the Oklahoma Thunder go this season with Westbrook, George and Anthony? Can they make a serious run in the west?
They are a great team. They have talented players and three prolific scorers and with Steven Adams the best offensive rebounder in the league. In the playoffs it will be important what the bench does.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Den of thieves. It was a good movie.
Thanks Peyton for the chat.