Scottie Barnes and the Toronto Raptors are going to need a unified, collaborative effort from all of their big names if they are going to replace the standout play of Pascal Siakam in the next few weeks. Barnes stepping up and playing like a No. 4 overall pick would certainly be a big help.
While Barnes has largely been excellent in his second season in the NBA, he has had a bit of a problem with starting slow of late. Not only was he scoreless in the first half of a loss against the Dallas Mavericks (a game in which he ended with a triple-double), but he didn’t score until late in the second quarter against the Chicago Bulls.
Luckily for Barnes, he broke that scoreless streak in what is going to be arguably one of the top five Barnes highlights this season. Considering his propensity for Twitter-breaking dunks and shows of pure athleticism, that’s certainly saying something.
Barnes used his size to back down Alex Caruso away from the basket before making his move to the rim, extending his arm to a degree that would have made Mr. Fantastic blush, and throwing down over Nikola Vucevic. This looked like something straight out of Space Jam.
Toronto Raptors: Scottie Barnes threw down on Nikola Vucevic.
Barnes came into this game averaging 15.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per game. While his much-improved 3-point shot has been a legitimate weapon on the offensive end for the Raptors this season, he hasn’t been overly aggressive with taking it to the rim this year.
Despite some nagging ankle injuries that have made it hard for him to really take off as a scorer, Barnes is still capable of moments of brilliance like this when he gets in rhythm. A healthy Barnes alongside Siakam is going to be something the rest of the league needs to fear.
Barnes may not always have the gaudiest per game scoring numbers, but how many 21-year-old players can go the length of the court in just a few dribbles and finish a dunk, all while immediately defending multiple positions on the next play? That’s the very definition of a box office attraction.
Even the most basic examination of any given Raptors game shows that Toronto is completely justified in all of its hype around Barnes. If he can pull off a dunk like that against an All-Star center like Vucevic, there are very few players in the league he can’t punk in a similar fashion.