The Toronto Raptors decided against bringing No. 4 overall pick Scottie Barnes along slowly, as Nick Nurse inserted him right into the starting lineup during their first two games. Barnes had a tough matchup in front of him against Jayson Tatum and a motivated Boston Celtics team, but he didn’t look flustered in the slightest.
The Raptors are asking a lot of Barnes, as they are expecting him to play near-elite defense, handle the ball, and work on improving his ability to make jumpers, all within the crucible of his first NBA action. The early returns, however, have been extremely promising on both ends.
After a solid debut performance against Washington that featured six turnovers in addition to his solid interior finishing, Barnes lit the Celtics on fire. He had a double-double by the end of the third quarter, and he finished the game with 25 points on 11-17 shooting and 13 rebounds during a 115-83 decimation of their rivals.
After his selection was mocked by some of the larger basketball media outlets, Barnes has helped lead this team to a dominant road win over a division rival in his second game. Cade Cunningham and Jalen Green might be the favorites for Rookie of the Year, but Barnes’ production, efficiency, and flair should make him a favorite for ROY and a budding star.
The Toronto Raptors leaned on Rookie of the Year contender Scottie Barnes.
Barnes hit his first career NBA 3-pointer and connected on multiple pull-up jumpers, including a few buckets in transition. The finishing at the rim that he perfected in Florida State has translated to the pros, and he was able to effectively utilize his uncommon size-speed combination to blow to the tin with ease.
What really stood out was his ability to see the game at such an advanced level. He just turned 20 years old, yet he is seeing and attempting passes that some veterans on their second contract can’t pull off.
If he has THAT in his bag already, that will help make him a more well-rounded player and compete with the likes of Cunningham and Green for the silverware.
Barnes might not be a totally perfect player yet, but for someone who was billed as both raw and a work in progress on offense, he might’ve been the most consistent Raptor on offense through the first few games of the season.
With his defense flourishing, his jaw-dropping passes stealing the show, and his propensity for flying to the rim like Superman getting exhibited regularly, Barnes has earned rave reviews through his first few games. The league should take notice, as Barnes looks comfortable and ready to thrive in Toronto.