Photo Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Is Barnes playing the one spot for the Toronto Raptors feasible in the long-term? I think it is, and so does he, according to his Instagram bio, in which he describes himself as a 6’9 point guard for the Toronto Raptors. Barnes is uber-athletic, his basketball instincts are off the charts, and has the tenacity that the Raptors organization is all about. His Instagram bio may have fans
talking about the idea.
This season is a developmental year for the Raptors, with Pascal Siakam sidelined for the early part of the season and the remaining hole at the center position, despite the addition of Precious Achiuwa. Toronto should be able to compete for a playoff spot, however, don’t expect them to be the two-way juggernaut they have been in recent years. Scoring will be an issue on this squad with the lack of shot creation, but the potential is certainly there. It will be interesting to see which player takes a leap to the next level.
The best version of Fred VanVleet is when he is playing off the ball. Vanvleet had a very inefficient year last season, shooting under 40 per cent from the field as the primary ball-handler. Despite his grit, he is nowhere near the finisher around the rim Kyle Lowry is. As evident in the Raptors’ championship run in 2019, you cannot leave Freddie any sort of room to get his shot off or he will burn you.
With this being a re-tool year, getting Barnes as many reps at the point guard position will be beneficial long-term, but it may not have an immediate impact on success with his lack of experience. Scottie Barnes is a good playmaker, having led his college team in assists at 4.1 per game despite coming off of the bench for 17 out of 24 contests. In four games played in the NBA
summer league, Barnes averaged 15.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 2 blocks and a steal per game. His playmaking looked advanced for a 20-year-old rookie.
The defensive potential Barnes showed in summer league was incredible. He is already an NBA-level defender with room for improvement. Him manning the lead-guard spot with that type of length will cause matchup problems across the board for opposing teams. The instincts he shows on the defensive-end can’t be taught. Diving for loose balls, anticipating plays, his rebounding, all make him a terror on that side of the ball.
Barnes still has a ton of untapped potential, but his improvement from his last year in college to this summer league was more than noticeable. Having Scottie play that point forward/point guard role is the long-term solution for this Raptors team that is not contending for an NBA championship this season.