Scottie Barnes needs to shoot more to unlock Raptors’ full potential

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JANUARY 05: Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JANUARY 05: Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images) /

While Pascal Siakam and the Toronto Raptors have enjoyed a fantastic start to 2022 now that most of the heavy hitters are back in the lineup, one of the few players who has seen his production go down slightly is rookie sensation and Rookie of the Year contender Scottie Barnes.

The Florida State product is averaging 15.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game in what has been an amazing inaugural campaign. There’s been minimal, if anything, to complain about. However, one concerning trend that has popped up lately is a lack of aggression on the offensive end.

Barnes has averaged 10.0 points per game over the last three contests, by far the lowest of any of Toronto’s starters. He’s only averaged 7.3 shots per game in those contests, which is a byproduct of names like OG Anunoby returning. Someone had to give up shot attempts when OG came back, and it looks like Scottie has relinquished some points.

Barnes mustered just 11 points against the Spurs and six in a victory over the Milwaukee Bucks. Toronto won both of those games, but they should also be making sure Barnes gets as many shots as possible.

Toronto Raptors: Scottie Barnes needs to be more aggressive.

Barnes has taken at least 10 shots attempts in all but eight games this season. Three of those games have come since 2022. While Siakam and Fred VanVleet going ballistic could lead to fewer touches and shots for Barnes, shooting the ball six times in 38 minutes shows some passivity in his approach.

Barnes hasn’t been inefficient, as his 45% success rate from the field shows. While a rookie playing alongside establish stars may defer to their skill and experience, Toronto wouldn’t have drafted Barnes if they didn’t believe in his ability as a complete two-way player.

Some Raptors fans might lean on the old “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” axiom, but the issue with that is the fact every Raptors starter is under contract through at least next season. This is what the Raptors are going to look like for the foreseeable future. If that’s the case, their prized No. 4 pick can’t be relegated to the fifth option on offense every night.

One promising trait about Barnes is his willingness to take Nick Nurse’s advice. After a poor offensive showing in Sacramento, Barnes responded to his calls for more aggression on offense. Ever since Nurse complained about Barnes’ lack of 3-point attempts, he’s averaged over four shots from deep per contest.

If Barnes gets back to his late November/early December production, Toronto could be a truly dominant offensive team.

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