The Toronto Raptors are so confident in Scottie Barnes aand his ability to turn himself into a player who can eventually lead a team to championship glory that they traded away Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby just to let him run the show.
While Barnes is not a perfect player, and the Raptors will be in for some tough sledding in the record books, Toronto believes they have a player who can not only lead to winning basketball, but a galvanizing figure the entire fanbase can unite around from a marketing perspective.
With Siakam now in Indiana and Scottie emerging as the surest bet to succeed him as the premier player on the team, his jersey sales have helped his famous No. 4 pop up all over Canada.
Barnes' No. 4 Raptors jersey was the most popular seller in Canada during the first half of the 2023-24 season, with LeBron James and Steph Curry behind him in the top three. Former Raptor Pascal Siaakm slides in at No. 4 with rookie Gradey Dick rounding out the top 15. Canadian superstar Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is ranked No. 11.
Toronto Raptors' Scottie Barnes has No. 1 jersey in Canada.
Barnes is averaging 20.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 5.7 assists per game this season, all of which would beat out what he did last year. With 1.3 steals and 1.5 blocks per game, the noticeable defensive improvement has been key to Toronto's steadfast belief in his abilities.
All that is known about the Raptors' roster for the 2024 season is that Barnes will be the primary scoring option while RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley slide into secondary scoring and playmaking roles. Dick will play a supplementary role. After that, it is a complete unknown what the rest of the squad will look like.
The next few months of the season, and Toronto's 2024-25 season as a whole, will be all about Barnes. The team will need to examine just how high his ceiling is, areas where he needs to improve quickly, and how close to becoming a championship contender a team built around his skills is.
If nothing else, the Barnes selection has given Toronto a dynamic personality the fans can fawn over for the next few years. Toronto as a basketball city, and Canada as a whole, is firmly in the palm of Barnes' hand as he tries to ascend from a fringe All-Star to a no-doubt lock.