Raptors: Is Scottie Barnes still untouchable in trade talks?

Coming into the season, Toronto Raptors fans had huge expectations for Scottie Barnes. The franchise had picked the Florida State power forward with the fourth overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.

He repaid their faith by producing a stellar debut campaign that saw him being crowned the 2021-22 Rookie of the Year ahead of the likes of Evan Mobley and Cade Cunningham. Barnes had averaged 15.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game while making 49.2% of his field goal attempts and 30% of his 3-pointers.

Naturally, there were hopes that Barnes would take his game to the next level this season, but that has not happened. While it would be a stretch to call it a “Sophomore Slump,” the Raptors youngster has certainly been through his fair share of struggles this season, as his efficiency and overall productivity have taken a dip.

Barnes has shown any significant improvement is his playmaking, and he has been a bit better from beyond the arc. However, his scoring, rebounding, and overall efficiency are all down this season. There have been only three games this season where he has posted 20 points or more. In comparison, he did it four times just in April.

Coming off of his Rookie of the Year season, most people would have felt that there was no way that the Raptors would even entertain the idea of trading Barnes, as he was viewed as the next face of the franchise.

His downturn in form since then might have potentially led to a rethink over the situation. With some humungous stars potentially going to be on the market in the next few years, is it fair to at least consider what a trade could look like?

Is Scottie Barnes still untouchable for the Toronto Raptors in trade talks?

On Serge Ibaka’s “How Hungry are You?” YouTube show, Fred VanVleet claimed that he would not trade Barnes, even for Kevin Durant. Would the Raptors not take that option if it presented itself?

Masai Ujiri is reportedly going to set off “fireworks” if the team stagnates at .500 when the deadline arrives, and that statement is vague enough to where a Barnes swap could come into play. Raptors fans can count the number of reasonable trade targets Barnes may be moved for on one hand, but the possibility shouldn’t be 100% ruled out.

At the end of the day, some growing pains for Barnes are nothing out of the ordinary. With his Rookie of the Year win, there is now a bigger target on his back this season, and teams will be paying more attention to him.

So, there is no need to panic about Barnes just yet. Yes, his numbers have dropped, but not drastically enough to cause extreme worry. At the same time, if the opportunity to bring a Durant-esque star to Toronto comes around, then the reigning Rookie of the Year should not be considered untouchable in trade talks.