1. Scottie Barnes must lead the offense from the post
Winning is the priority, but making sure Barnes becomes a star is right near the top of the priority list. Free from the constraints of a Nick Nurse offense that didn’t quite fit his skillset, Barnes has had one of the best five-game stretches of his career.
Barnes has averaged 20.8 points, 10.0 rebounds, 5.4 assists, and 2.4 blocks per game per game in a stretch that has shown how well-rounded his game is. Barnes has been very efficient, making 52% of his shots from the floor and a very impressive 43% of his 3-pointers.
Scottie Barnes must be the leading man for the Toronto Raptors.
Barnes has been willing to attack the basket and pull up from 3-point range, but he and the rest of the Raptors thrived when he got touches in the post and operated from around the elbow. If you matched up well with him, he’ll make a terrific kick-out pass. If you don’t, he’ll run you over.
Barnes still has a lot of hills to climb, as dozens of NBA payers can put together terrific five-game stretches, but the shooting and assertiveness we have seen from Barnes this season appear to be sustainable. This wrinkle has given Toronto’s offense some life, and Rajakovic must lean into it until it gets stopped.