The Toronto Raptors made one of the best draft picks in franchise history when they were somehow able to turn the seventh-best lottery odds in the 2021 NBA Draft into the No. 4 overall pick and Florida State star Scottie Barnes. Toronto’s versatile forward beat out Evan Mobley and Cade Cunningham for Rookie of the Year.
Barnes averaged 15.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists in a year where many expected him to be a bench player due to a perceived rawness on the offensive side of the ball. Even the biggest Barnes optimists had to be stunned that he was this far along in his development.
Barnes will assuredly have an increased role in 2022-23, as the Raptors are going to lean on him for large chunks of their production. Even with OG Anunoby and Gary Trent Jr. likely to be looking for enhanced offensive roles, the Raptors will be trusting that Barnes is going to emerge as the tertiary scorer.
Fresh off dominating the Rico Hines offseason runs and adding some noticeable muscle mass, Barnes is just a few minor tweaks from vaulting into that illustrious All-Star tier. What should Raptors fans expect from the youngster they are pinning their hopes and dreams to?
Toronto Raptors: Scottie Barnes need to take a step forward
Barnes should be well over 17 points per game in his second season. After making just 30% of his 3-pointers and rarely leaning on such a deficient trait, Barnes needs to be up to around four attempts from deep this year and a 35% efficiency clip. Even getting halfway that
Nick Nurse has hinted that Barnes could be the second-unit point guard due to a lack of depth at the position. If that role comes in tandem with increased time as a primary ball-handler, is it crazy to expect just south of five assists per game? 3.5 assists per game as an off-ball rookie shows that his passing acumen is already exemplary.
His defensive impact could be harder to measure, as steals and blocks may not do him justice, but we need to see Barnes be more productive off-ball in this area. While Barnes let several opponents run free to the rim as a result of inexperience, he should be more locked in and comfortable in year two.
Barnes upping his scoring by a few points while continuing to take strides in the right direction as a passer will be integral stepping stones on his path to becoming a perennial All-Star. The Raptors fancy themselves a contending team, and Barnes is one of the main reasons why.