It’s hard to look at what Darko Rajakovic, Scottie Barnes, and the rest of the Toronto Raptors did in the preseason and not come away highly impressed with how this offense is performing. The Raptors appear to have gone from an also-ran to someone who must be taken seriously.
Toronto finished off a 4-0 set of exhibitions that was more impressive than that figure would indicate, as three of those wins were comprehensive blowouts that were over before the fourth quarter started. The bench looked deep, and the vibes were simply immaculate.
The Raptors are heading into a very difficult stretch to begin the season, starting with an October 25 duel against the Minnesota Timberwolves, with as much momentum as one team can pick up from a four-game preseason schedule. The question of how much will transfer is the key.
While there were still a handful of players and a collection of observers who did not cover themselves in flory as a result of these four games, many of Toronto’s more integral players looked as effective as one could have hoped. Which Raptors were winners? Who lost big time?
Winners and losers after standout Toronto Raptors preseason run.
Winner: Scottie Barnes
The untouchable Barnes was put right at the tip of Toronto’s spear, as the Raptors are wasting no time making him their franchise cornerstone. Based on the early results, Toronto fans should expect a genuine 1-2 punch of Pascal Siakam and Barnes leading the offensive charge.
Barnes’ 18.5 points per game and ridiculous 63% success rate from the field is impressive enough, but he paired that with improved 3-point success after drilling seven of his 14 triples. Among players who played all four games, Barnes led that group in rebounding and was third in assists.
Scottie Barnes looked like a future Toronto Raptors star.
The three-headed hydra of Barnes’ improved physical condition, a confidence inside of him that was lacking at times last year, and the schematic tweaks a tactician like Rajaklvic can bring to the table are all melding together in a perfect storm that will set Barnes up for success.
Toronto has seen Barnes be great before. Consistency is the key. If nothing else, Barnes’ standout showings in the preseason prove he is in a better place to replicate that consistency under Rajakovic than he ever was during what was an ill-fated end to the Nurse era.