The Toronto Raptors are doing everything they can to take the 2022 season, throw it in the trash, and move on. Scottie Barnes was one of the few bright spots, and he will be at the forefront of the rehabilitation plan Masai Ujiri and Toronto are starting to put into place.
After Masai Ujiri thoroughly underwhelmed with his quotes at Media Day, stressing patience and trying to reassure the fanbase, it was left up to the players to find some way to get fans excited about Darko Rajakovic’s debut season. Barnes was up to the task.
Though Barnes did flatline as a scorer, due in part to both his own shooting woes and issues that were not in his control, the athletic ability and passing that Toronto coveted is still there. Hopefully, Barnes is going to strut his stuff more frequently this year while putting 2022-23 on the back burner.
Barnes called last year “draining” and said that it felt like “every man for himself” at times. It doesn’t matter if you are a collection of young players trying to find their way or a veteran squad eyeing a ring; that level of tumult behind the scenes will ruin everything.
Toronto Raptors star Scottie Barnes calls 2022-23 “draining”
With ball-dominant point guard Fred VanVleet now a member of the Houston Rockets and Nick Nurse (who may have enabled a VanVleet-led offensive system that often looked stale) is now the coach of the Philadelphia 76ers. Rajakovic wants an egalitarian offense, which could play to Barnes’ advantage.
Between multiple players trying to fight for new contracts and the team’s own regression in the standings, it is easy to see how things got unraveled so quickly. Barnes’s positive attitude, combined with his improved play, will be invaluable tools for the Toronto resurgence.
Barnes’ conditioning and strength are, per his own estimations, as good as they have ever been. Barnes has bulked up this season, weighing in at a lean 240 pounds ahead of a pivotal campaign. Imagine this goliath streaking to the basket on a fast break.
The Raptors expect big things out of Barnes, as he is running out of time to show he can be a future All-Star this team can build around. Luckily, he is ready to accept the challenge and thrive with his new coaches.