Nick Nurse comments on Scottie Barnes’ offensive struggles

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 12: Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 12: Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors are playing without most of their big guns. Pascal Siakam and Precious Achiuwa have groin and ankle injuries, respectively, while an illness and sore hip have sidelined Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. The last few games could have been a showcase for Scottie Barnes, but he hasn’t taken advantage.

Barnes has shot just 33% from the floor in his last five games, scoring eight or fewer points in three of them and never topping 15 points. His improved 3-point shooting has regressed, as he has connected on just two of his last 14 shots from deep. Winnable games against the Thunder and Pacers have slipped away as a result.

While the Raptors managed to beat the Detroit Pistons thanks to a career game from Dalano Banton, Barnes was a ghost for almost the entire second and third quarters. While he did tweak his ankle earlier in the season, Nick Nurse has a much simpler explanation for his recent struggles.

Per Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun, Nurse is not putting Barnes’ struggles down to injury, saying it is usual wear and tear. He did say that he is looking for Barnes to show the same energy he had during his breakout rookie season if he wants to get back on the right track.

Nick Nurse wants Toronto Raptors SF Scottie Barnes to be energetic.

This would have been a perfect chance for Barnes to flex his muscles. With VanVleet and Siakam out, he could take on the role of primary ball-handler and defensive lynchpin. He’s struggled in both those areas, especially with his perimeter on-ball defense, but the offensive issues are more noticeable.

Barnes made over half his shots last year, but his inability to be the same dominant paint scorer has been his Achilles heel this season. The fact that Barnes is settling for more mid-range jumpers and getting further from the basket is not what you want to see, especially on a team that lacks interior offense outside of Siakam.

The flashes of greatness are still there, which is a small silver lining for Toronto. Not only did he have the dunk of the year (to this point) over Nikola Vucevic in a game against the Bulls, but he showed his unreal passing ability with a dime to Banton in the Detroit win. Nurse just needs to see these moments more often.

The Raptors are going to give the Scottie Barnes experiment every opportunity available to break out of this slump and get back on the right track. This can be a grueling process for such a young player, but Nurse seems to think that getting his energy back to past levels will do the trick.

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