Scottie Barnes and the Toronto Raptors could have thrown up their hands and admitted defeat when Victor Wembanyama and the San Antonio Spurs took a 17-point lead into the fourth quarter. Through nothing short of a miraculous showing, Barnes and OG Anunoby willed Toronto to a win.
After a 30-point, 11-rebound, six-assist performance that saw him come alive in the second half, Barnes again showed that he has officially taken a massive leap in his third season. Scottie went from a toolsy young player figuring things out to a premier two-way option.
Barnes is averaging 22.6 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per game in a performance that showed off exactly why the Raptors believe Barnes can be someone who leads the next era of basketball. An All-Star nod would be an honorable goal, but Barnes should have his sights set even higher.
The Most Improved Player race is still very much wide open, and the Raptors star may end up right at the forefront now that he has been put on display for the rest of the league. A closer examination of his performance shows that he should be among the favorites for the MIP award.
3 reasons Toronto Raptors SF Scottie Barnes is in MIP race
3. Better offensive game
Barnes’ per-game averages are impressive, and the fact he’s been putting up numbers like these at such a young age bodes well for what he could be in the future. The tape backs these numbers up, as Barnes is excelling despite having a ton put on his plate early on.
Barnes is connecting on 42% of his 3-pointers despite increasing his volume to 5.4 triples per game. Not only does this improved percentage show that Barnes has been able to fix his biggest issue from last year, but he’s turned it into a position of serious strength.
Scottie Barnes is leading the Toronto Raptors on offense.
Despite playing alongside a point guard like Dennis Schroder, who holds the ball and will pile up the assists, Barnes has been able to flex his playmaking muscles. Be it as a perimeter initiator or elbow operator, the Raptors have Barnes playing confident basketball.
The Raptors have given Barnes a very long leash, which is something that was not always the case in what was a very restrictive Nick Nurse offense that often relegated him to third or fourth in the pecking order. Rajakovic has gone all-in on Barnes, and he has rewarded his trust so far.