Raptors: Nick Nurse says Scottie Barnes is already looking better

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - JANUARY 26: Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors defends against the Chicago Bulls (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - JANUARY 26: Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors defends against the Chicago Bulls (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors were able to reap the benefits of a Rookie of the Year performance from No. 4 overall pick Scottie Barnes last season. After going back and forth with Evan Mobley, Barnes and his unique style of play won the day and pushed ahead. He’ll be a fixture in Toronto for years to come.

Despite initial skepticism over the decision to select him over Orlando Magic point guard Jalen Suggs, Barnes averaged 15.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game in one of the finest rookie seasons we’ve seen in years. The improvement in his game was noticeable.

Barnes went from someone who wouldn’t even think about pulling up from 3-point range into a legitimate three-level scorer with room to grow. The latest reports from Nick Nurse make it seem like Barnes has spent the offseason tirelessly working on improving his craft.

On “The Raptors Show”, Nurse said that Barnes “looked different” after he first saw him working out, saying that he looks much stronger and has a smoother jump shot. Fixing that jumper is going to be the difference between Barnes stagnating and ascending in his second season, so this is a very encouraging sight.

Scottie Barnes is getting stronger for the Toronto Raptors.

While shooting 30% on 2.6 3-point attempts per game isn’t horrible considering how he wasn’t even considered a minor threat from deep in college, Barnes appears to be taking steps toward fixing his jumper. Getting his efficiency up near the 35% range would be a game-changer that alters the scope of the Toronto offense.

Even though Barnes was listed at just under 230 pounds, the odds of him staying at that weight for his entire career were unlikely. Barnes’ offensive game still centers around running to the rim, and getting stronger will only make him even more of a nuisance in the paint.

Even with an All-Star point guard in Fred VanVleet and an All-NBA power forward in Pascal Siakam, Barnes is expected to take a step forward as a scorer next year. Even if his shot attempts remain relatively unchanged, being better from 3-point range is critical to his long-term success.

Barnes came into the league as a sure-fire defensive stud with some questions about how his offensive game would translate to the NBA. After getting much better on offense than he was with the Seminoles during his rookie season, Scottie looks ready to take that next step and become 3-point marksman.

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