Preseason Scottie Barnes showed why he was “untouchable” in trade talks

TORONTO, ON - MARCH 26: Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - MARCH 26: Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images) /

For a while, there were rumblings of two particular NBA superstars potentially finding their way up north to join Scottie Barnes and the Toronto Raptors. These two stars chasing a new home in question were Kevin Durant and Damian Lillard. Of course, both Durant and Lillard found a change in scenery as they were traded to the Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks, respectively.

However, according to the rumor mill, the Raptors were heavily involved in early trade talks to acquire these potentially franchise-altering household names.

What ultimately took the Raptors out of serious trade discussions for the stars was their desire to keep 2021-22 NBA Rookie of the Year Barnes off limits in any potential deal. For some, this bold move by the Raptors was seen as possibly detrimental to their future success, as it saw them strike out on bringing in an available superstar to their roster.

Nevertheless, Toronto still held the young Barnes to a high degree, choosing to trust in his untapped potential rather than jumping the gun to acquire an aging star. And following the conclusion of the Raptors 2023-24 preseason schedule, Scottie Barnes showcased precisely why he was “untouchable” in the eyes of the front office.

Scottie Barnes came up big-time for the Toronto Raptors in the 2023-24 preseason.

To begin his preseason run, Scottie Barnes put up 15 points, seven rebounds, and four assists against the Sacramento Kings. In the last two Raptors preseason games, this was where Barnes truly showed his potential to make a significant third-year leap.

Against the Chicago Bulls, Barnes came through with an impressive 22 points, six rebounds, three assists, two steals, and four blocks, demonstrating his superb ability on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court. When facing the Washington Wizards, Barnes closed out his set of stellar performances with 23 points, six rebounds, and two blocks.

This was undoubtedly a far cry from Barnes’ statistics in the prior preseason. Barnes averaged 10 points on roughly 43% shooting from the field and an abysmal 22% from 3-point range on about two attempts per game. This year’s preseason saw Barnes’ averages improve to 18.5 points on roughly 63% shooting and a revamped 3-point shooting percentage of 50%.

The efficiency is there, but his newfound aggression and confidence in Darko Rajakovic’s offense could set the stage for a dominant season.

Barnes’ quality performances in the preseason played a big part in the Raptors finishing their preseason schedule with a perfect 4-0 record. Needless to say, it was just the preseason, and one cannot get too overconfident with Barnes. It is somewhat illogical to expect the still-developing Barnes to skyrocket to superstar levels of progression immediately.

However, suppose he can continue to polish his all-around game and find this same sense of consistency. In that case, the possibilities are endless with a blooming Barnes thrust in the forefront of this Raptors core. One cannot ignore the fact that Barnes is out to prove the doubters wrong, and he is undoubtedly one of the NBA’s brightest young stars on the rise.