The Toronto Raptors went into the 2022-23 season expecting big things out of reigning Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes. While his numbers in a vacuum are solid, Raptors fans are well aware of the fact that Scottie has been just a notch or two below where he was last year.
Barnes’ assists per game have jumped up to 5.2 per game. That’s nice. However, his scoring has fallen to just 13.8 points per game, all while he is seeing a decline in his rebounds and efficiency. His showing on Wednesday night may have been one of his worst performances yet.
Barnes made just one shot from the field in Toronto’s embarrassing defeat against the New Orleans Pelicans, turning the ball over three times and remaining glued to the bench for most of the second half. A year that was supposed to be a coronation for one of the game’s best youngsters has become more nightmare than dream.
While Barnes is going to turn things around soon, Toronto needs to be concerned about when that turnaround is going to come. While he has struggled to stay healthy thanks to some unfortunate injuries, his issues this year go deeper than that. How worried should the Raptors be?
Should the Toronto Raptors be worried about Scottie Barnes?
First, the negatives. Barnes has scored more than 20 points in a game just twice this year and put up fewer than 10 points four times. Barnes shot a disappointing 39% from the field in November and has made more than 50% of his shots in a game just once since a win against the Spurs on November 2.
On top of that, Barnes often looks disengaged and lacking effort on the defensive end. There have been times when he has been outright bad as an on-ball defender, which has to drive Nurse crazy.
Now, the positives. Barnes is a much better shooter than he was as a rookie, which is one flaw that Toronto wanted to see him correct. Barnes was rock-solid before injuries started to chip away at his health early in the season, so there is a chance that his hesitance to drive to the basket is all physical.
When he gets a full head of steam, he’s still lethal. Just ask Nikola Vucevic.
At the end of the day, Barnes will be a solid player in this league that will eventually put up per-game averages that exceed what he did in his rookie season. However, he’s clearly struggling right now, and the Raptors need to figure out exactly what sort of push he needs to get back on track.