The complicated sophomore season of Scottie Barnes: Is he helping the Raptors?

TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 14: Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 14: Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images) /
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Between the nagging injuries left and right, Pascal Siakam refusing to plateau as he enters his prime, Nick Nurse attempting to make chicken salad out of this supremely weird Toronto Raptors roster, and Scottie Barnes trying to find his way through it all, this has been a wild season.

After Barnes lit up the north last season, winning Rookie of the Year and capturing the hearts of Raptors fans in the process, expectations were high for the Florida native’s sophomore campaign. Now, making him “off limits” in trade talks is looking like a questionable move.

Scottie’s more complicated start to the 2022-23 season has sparked concern from fans and media alike. The leap many expected Scottie to take hasn’t been smooth or as linear, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened in some areas.

Complicated is certainly the operative word. There are many moving parts surrounding Barnes’ start to this season. There are still plenty of games left to be played, so this is far from a closed book, but it’s still worth breaking down why his rise hasn’t happened quite as we expected and why there is still plenty of reason for hope.

How is Scottie Barnes performing for the Toronto Raptors?

Scottie came right out of the gate this season and sprained his ankle twice. It’s often the small-scale, nagging bumps and bruises that get played through, and therefore appear on live TV for millions of fans to watch and wonder about.

Barnes’ explosiveness suffered that first month of the season. He was getting blown by on defense, he wasn’t running up and down on the break as much, and he wasn’t attacking the basket with any regularity, electing to shoot more from range and throw up his signature hook shot/floater combination.

While it didn’t appear on the injury report, fans who were paying attention knew that the ankle hadto be stille bothering Barnes. He typically plays the game with so much ferocity, so something had to be wrong.

The last thing to return when recovering from a nagging lower-body injury like that isn’t the range of motion or even the athleticism; it’s the confidence and attack mentality. You need to remember how to trust your body again, and only in the past few weeks are we starting to see Barnes return to his rate of at-rim finishing.