Raptors: Scottie Barnes defending guards already is perfection

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 04: Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 04: Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors poured over the video of Scottie Barnes several times over when the Florida State alum was coming out of college, and they decided to make him the No. 4 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft thanks to his potential as a two-way star. Barnes finally got to show off his stuff against the Philadelphia 76ers in a pair of preseason games.

Barnes has quickly become a beloved figure among the Raptors’ fanbase, as his vivacious personality and hustle on the floor have a very endearing quality. That being said, questions about how long it would be before he made a consistent impact at the NFL level were still abound.

Not only has Barnes flexed his muscles as a scorer, distributor, and defender, but he’s done so while oftentimes going head-to-head against one of the best perimeter players from the opposing team.

In Thursday’s contest, Barnes started defending Shake Milton as soon as he got the inbound, used his endless wingspan to disrupt him and pick his pocket clean, and set up Precious Achiuwa for an uncontested dunk. When paired with his offensive IQ and emotion, Toronto picking Barnes looks like a no-brainer in retrospect.

Scottie Barnes is showing off why the Toronto Raptors drafted him.

The Raptors have been preaching the gospel of a positionless style of basketball over the course of the offseason, but that only works if players like Barnes show an aptitude for both locking down in the post and making plays on the perimeter.

Considering that Barnes is already making adjustments to correct his shooting issues, looks like a natural handling the ball, and is picking pockets and playing tough defense against veterans like Milton and youngsters like Isaiah Joe and Tyrese Maxey, he’s well on his way to helping Toronto realize that vision.

In case you foolishly thought he was slacking off on the offensive end in this game, don’t worry about it. Barnes has been more than willing to show what a fantastic passer he is at such an early age, and he linked up with free agent signing Svi Mykhailiuk in order to set up the Ukrainian sensation for an eye-catching finish.

The most impressive thing about Barnes’ first few games has been how comfortable he looks on the floor despite the fact he’s a rookie. While the regular season will be played at a much different speed, it’s good to see Barnes already contributing on both sides of the ball in his first NBA action.

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