Advantages the Raptors gain when Scottie Barnes is point guard

On the latest episode of "Strictly Hoops", C.J. Miles and Amit Mann discuss how Scottie Barnes' height and skill create mismatches for the Raptors on offence. Full episode is on the "Raptors Over Everything" podcast feed.

Video Transcript

AMIT MANN: Your thoughts on Scottie as a point guard and how he's being used to facilitate and just make dimes. Dimes are our thing here.

CJ MILES: I think you-- the first thing is, obviously, he's a 6' 9" point guard. You talked about the size, the length, the being able to see, the vision. But I think the biggest thing-- even though we play positionless basketball now, the guys that are guarding him aren't used to guarding primary ball handlers. So we put them in positions.

We just kind of change the way the defense is used to being set, right? Even the point guards, they the defensive schemes. They know when they're supposed to be in help. But they're still in spaces they're not used to being in all the time. They're used to guarding the ball and used to--

It's like we talked about on the show one time. You switch positions when I was playing, moving from the two to the four, now my back's to the baseline more.


CJ MILES: Or the position I'm starting in if I'm guarding the four that's doing pick-and-rolls, he's running down to the baseline and running up. And you've got to-- there's still a muscle memory you have to gain in that action too. You have to get lots of reps to understand that it can switch then.

And then you switch. And now I'm guarding the two again. And now I'm back to being the guy on the elbow and trying to figure out what play is being called or if they're going to use this guy in the play this time. We don't even know because it's such positionless, like now we're just going to pick on who we think we can pick on.

So I think guys have to be so alert. And I think he's able to take advantage of that.

AMIT MANN: Right. When it comes to being a 6' 9" point guard in the pick-and-roll as a ball handler, what does that do for the defense in terms of the passing angles, in terms of being able to execute and just find cutters? How does that negate some of the advantages that a defense might have in a typical pick-and-roll setting?

CJ MILES: So you think-- so if I run a pick-and-roll with-- if Scottie's the five and Pascal's the four--

AMIT MANN: Mm-hmm.

CJ MILES: --and I run the pick-and-roll with those two, I have the two biggest guys on the floor outside the 3-point line guarding this play.


CJ MILES: So any advantage I gain downhill, everybody's small. Anybody that's coming to help is smaller. The guy that's protecting the rim is smaller. The guys with their hands up in the passing lanes are smaller, meaning my advantage of vision or attacking the help, if I beat these guys out, which I probably will because they're slower feet-- don't get me-- that's not everybody. But when I do, everything that's coming to help is a smaller guy.

That's what creates the most havoc for us. So if I have Fred in the weak side corner and his guy is the guy that's got to be the baseline help with Scottie going to attack the rim, there's nothing he can do about that but foul.


CJ MILES: And if he's there early, I'm throwing a bullet pass to Freddie standing by himself in a corner.

AMIT MANN: Mm-hmm.

CJ MILES: Same with Gary Trent, Jr. Same with OG. They're still smaller guys. OG's a guy, might be a little bigger but still it's still not the guy that's been assigned to me.

AMIT MANN: Actually, speaking of that, it was a Fred and Scottie pick-and-roll. But Fred rejected the screen. And Scottie started going towards the middle of the floor. And he got the ball. And because of what you're talking about, Pascal on the weak side, he set a back screen for OG.

And that player who Pascal set the screen for is just smaller, right? And so the screen was very effective. And OG got an open catch-and-shoot 3, and he hit it. So, that's a good point. I mean, that's why we have on the show is that you're going to make points like this that we haven't thought of yet. But that's absolutely, absolutely right.

And then he found Chris. And it's been a couple of times, actually, where Scottie has--

CJ MILES: Shoutout to Chris. Chris had a great game last night too.

AMIT MANN: He's been-- yeah, he was awesome, right?

CJ MILES: He was great off the bench.

AMIT MANN: And the fact that he was a DNP last week, right? And nothing changed. Nothing wavered for him. He knew exactly who he was and what he had to do. And now he's got his tag team partner, Triple H, Triple H there. But the way Scottie is finding Precious and Chris in the spots that they are most effective-- Chris, it is by the rim. And he's just able to get some easy layups. And with Precious, you just see him exploding to the rim when the opportunity is there.

CJ MILES: That slot drive has been good for him when that ball is swinging around the horn, and his guy thinks he can help because he's thinking Precious not to be a shooter. And Precious is catching that ball running. He had one really early in the game especially, down the lane. And by the time the defense can react, because it's coming around the horn, there's nobody in help set. And he's at-- it's still going to be a small guy again because he's the biggest guy on the floor. So the biggest guy's guarding him. He attacks and gets by the biggest guy. There's nobody going to meet him at the rim with a running start.


CJ MILES: And he gets his bang out. And then that's another energy boost for the unit also and for him. Guys tend to-- it just works this way psychologically. Guys getting easy shots or open shots or dunks, it changes the way the defenses play too. It's not a coincidence that they shot-- I don't remember what they-- I don't remember the exact number. I know they shot 50% at least last night.


CJ MILES: So we're talking every other shot, right, when you really think about it throughout a game. And sometimes it's like five shots in a row. And these happen because Precious gets a dunk, and then we get two stops in a row, and we get run out. Somebody gets an open 3. Somebody gets a--

But his play is what starts all of that.

AMIT MANN: Uh-huh.

CJ MILES: It starts the bench chattering. It starts the guys can hype. It starts everything.

AMIT MANN: And they're getting so many run-ups because they're playing zone with a bunch of 6' 8", 6' 9" players that are extremely athletic.

CJ MILES: It's so crazy.

AMIT MANN: They found the sweet spot.

CJ MILES: It's so crazy when you think about it, right? It's just a matchup zone. It's like, just be in the gaps, and make sure nobody gets open shots, right? And we can be everywhere on the floor.