Nick Nurse, Scottie Barnes, and the Toronto Raptors officially wrapped up their preseason schedule on Tuesday night. A win over the Washington Wizards, buoyed by non-guaranteed players and projected starters alike, helped Toronto take home a 3-2 postseason record.
The Raptors are still in a very experimental stage when it comes to figuring out what their style will look like and what the rotation could look like. Based on the first few games, players like Barnes and OG Anunoby look ready to help this upstart team surprise some doubters in the regular season.
It wasn’t always easy or painless in the preseason, as there were some poor stretches marked by some shaky perimeter defense and stretches where they couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn on offense. Nevertheless, they persevered and continued to rack up the wins.
Which Toronto Raptors players can hold their heads high and say that they performed admirably in the preseason? Were there any players that need to put this series of games in the past as the regular season comes around?
It’s time to hand out some awards.
Toronto Raptors Preseason Superlatives and Awards
Best Defensive Player: Scottie Barnes
The Raptors didn’t give Barnes an easy runway to get his feet under him in the NBA, as he had to guard All-Star talents and elite scorers like Jayson Tatum and Bradley Beal. Not only did Barnes make it through those challenges, but he was also able to give them some legitimate headaches.
Tatum never really got going in the first half, and Beal didn’t connect on one shot from the field in the first half with Barnes on him as the primary defender. When paired with some intriguing passing skills on the offensive end in tandem with that defense, Barnes might’ve given Raptors fans the most to smile about in the preseason.
Scottie Barnes is showing off for the Toronto Raptors
Barnes might need to work on his jumper, but everything about his player profile suggested that he was going to come right in and be an impact defender. It’s just the preseason, but a rookie playing like that against two legit stars in Beal and Tatum deserves the highest marks possible.
While Pascal Siakam being hurt created a pathway to extra playing time for Barnes, he’s been so impressive on defense that it will be almost impossible to bite into that playing time when they return to full strength. While some rookies are struggling out of the gate, Barnes is thriving.