There hasn’t been a ton to get too excited about for fans of the Toronto Raptors, as the team’s 2-4 start has been the result of big names like Pascal Siakam and Gary Trent Jr. being disappointing. At the very least, Scottie Barnes continues to make his presence felt as his upward trajectory continues.
Darko Rajakovic was brought on to get the most out of Barnes, and he’s been doing a tremendous job of it so far. In addition to terrific per game averages of 21.3 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 5.8 assists on the offensive end, Barnes amassed 12 blocks in his first six contests.
Toronto invested in Barnes with the belief that he could be a star player who could carry this team for the next half-decade, and his performance in the first six games has been so impressive that only a Hall of Famer has equaled these numbers in Raptors history.
Barnes became the first player in Raptors history to score 20 points in five straight games since Chris Bosh in 2007. Keep in mind this stretch came at the tail end of Bosh’s fourth season in the NBA, while Barnes is beginning his third season under a new coaching staff.
Scottie Barnes matches Toronto Raptors great Chris Bosh in hot streak.
Barnes’ shooting was always going to be the key that made or broke his ability to become a star, and the general consensus on his performance in that area so far has been universal acclaim. 52% shooting from the field and 39% from 3-point range on 4.7 attempts per game are quality returns.
Barnes has been doing this despite spacing issues that have rolled over from last year, veterans like Siakam and Trent playing some of their worst stretches of basketball in new roles, and no viable bench that can take pressure off him. Nevertheless, he is thriving.
The Raptors have empowered Barnes, giving him the green light to shoot it and allowing him to operate the offense from the elbow quite regularly. The offense is still a work in progress, but Toronto has found a solid balance between letting Dennis Schroder distribute the ball and giving Barnes a great deal of freedom.
If Barnes ends up becoming half the player Bosh was at his peak, Toronto will be set up nicely for the future. The results of Toronto’s Barnes-led philosophy haven’t shown up in the win-loss column, but Rajakovic and the rest of the team must hold strong and continue to inflate Barnes’ numbers.