Paul George gives Scottie Barnes’ defense an incredible compliment

HOUSTON, TEXAS - FEBRUARY 03: Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - FEBRUARY 03: Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors must be extremely pleased with the early returns surrounding top young player Scottie Barnes, as he has quickly evolved into a player with so much talent on both ends of the court that some want to blow up the current roster and transition solely to a Barnes-led era.

While Barnes’ playmaking on offense has drawn praise from all corners of the NBA world, his defense hasn’t necessarily been everything fans thought it would be. There are moments where he looks like a future Defensive Player of the Year, but there are also some mental miscues.

Nevertheless, Los Angeles Clippers star Paul George believes that Barnes’ length and athletic ability will be able to put him in rarified air. On his “Podcast P” show, George said that Barnes and New Orleans Pelicans wing Herb Jones do not get enough national attention for their skills on that end.

George said that Barnes is someone with DPOY potential. His guest, Memphis Grizzlies center and NBA blocks leader Jaren Jackson Jr, agreed with his assessment. If anything, this shows the kind of respect that Barnes is starting to gain from his equals around the league.

Paul George praised Toronto Raptors star Scottie Barnes.

Barnes’ lack of defensive excellence in the pros stems from an inconsistent role. When you’re asked to defend multiple positions all the time in your first few seasons, it can be hard for your on-ball and off-ball skills to work together and develop at the same time.

Even with some of those struggles, it’s easy to see why George is so bullish on Barnes’ potential. When he is locked in on defense, his arms make him a very disruptive presence in the lane. His strength in the post enables him to be an absolute nightmare for big men down low.

The next step for Barnes is figuring out how to turn some of that promise into tangible production. While Nick Nurse and his defensive methods might be gone, an executive that loves positionless basketball in Masai Ujiri is not going to hire someone that doesn’t have a concrete plan for turning Barnes into a dominant defender.

The fact that players like George, who play as far away from Barnes as possible down in LA, were able to gain that much respect for him after just a handful of games says a lot about what the league thinks of the Toronto star and how far he can go. 

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