Raptors: Fred VanVleet dismisses criticism about Scottie Barnes

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) /

When the Toronto Raptors selected Scottie Barnes with the fourth overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, it came as a surprise to a lot of fans. Many believed that they were going to go for Jalen Suggs, who ended up going to Orlando Magic with the very next pick. A year and a half on, it is safe to say that Nick Nurse’s side made the right choice.

Barnes went on to be crowned the Rookie of the Year for the 2021-22 season. He averaged 15.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.1 steals, and 0.7 blocks while 35.4 minutes per game in his debut campaign, as he shot 49.2% from the field.

Naturally, coming into this season, there were high expectations from Barnes. And while the 21-year-old has not made a bad start, he is yet to match his performances from last season in a number of areas, especially on the offensive end.

At the moment, he is averaging 13.7 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 4.9 assists while making 44.7 % of his field goal attempts and 33.3% from 3-point range. As a result, some people have claimed that Barnes is going through a sophomore-year slump. Raptors All-Star, Fred VanVleet, is having none of it.

Toronto Raptors: Fred VanVleet backed up Scottie Barnes.

In his postgame availability after the win over the Miami Heat, VanVleet alleviated concerns about Barnes’ form.

"“Nobody around here is worried about him. We know how great of a player he is going to be. There’s not any young player I would trade him for. The sky is the limit for him. Whether that’s tomorrow or in a couple of years, we’ll see. The rest is up to him and how much work he puts in and how he approaches the game.”"

He may not be at his best, but the demise of Barnes has been greatly exaggerated. His numbers are down in most areas, but not drastically. Also, he has improved when it comes to his playmaking and 3-point shooting.

There are also some question marks over whether he is playing at full health, as there has been a lingering ankle issue that could potentially have a bigger impact on his play than initially expected.

One also cannot overlook the fact that winning the Rookie of the Year has put a bigger target on his back than was there last season. His showing in the Miami victory makes it appear as though he’s close to turning things around.

At the end of the day, there were always bound to be some lows in Barnes’ second season in the league, with expectations set so high. In the long run, adversity like this should make him a better player.

Next. 3 Raptors who have exceeded expectations. dark