What Will Barton changes for the Raptors

Imman Adan and Jevohn Shepherd discuss how Will Barton changes rotations along with how he could be deployed by the Raptors. Listen to the full episode on Barton, what to watch for in the upcoming games against the Wizards and more on the 'Raptors Over Everything' podcast feed.

Video Transcript

IMMAN ADAN: They have new depth now with the newest, the latest edition of Will Barton. So Juancho Hernangómez was waived by the team, and Will Barton was brought in. What are your thoughts on the addition?

I mean, you mentioned it a little bit there, he was a starter very recently for the Denver Nuggets, of course. And this year, he played 41 games, averaged about 20 minutes a night for the Washington Wizards. So you know that he can get out there and get you your backup point guard minutes, which a lot of people were talking about you need a backup guard, you need another playmaker to come off the bench.

Do the Raptors finally have their answer?

JEVOHN SHEPHERD: Well, that's a personal bias of mine because Will's a good friend, so I know what he's capable of. And I know that he's-- I know I texted him as soon as I read that he was coming here. And he was extremely excited to be coming to Toronto. So I thought that one, that was special there.

You always want guys that want to be here, right, because then they'll commit more, they'll invest more, and they'll buy in more. So right away-- and that was the same thing I felt about Scottie when he first got drafted. If you look at all his media clips and his interviews, he was ecstatic to be, one, just be drafted, but to come to Toronto. And he's come out and he's played--

IMMAN ADAN: How far we've come.

JEVOHN SHEPHERD: Right? Times have changed. But with Will, I think you can't measure too much-- don't put too much emphasis on his time in Washington.


JEVOHN SHEPHERD: Because that was a unique situation, right? They had a lot of guys that were in and out. Beal was hurt. There was so many moving parts there.

He spent a lot of time playing some of the point guard position, which is not a natural position for a guy who innately can score, just wants to score the basketball, right? That's what he does by nature. So that time there, I wouldn't put too much on that.

But you look at his time in Denver, a part of a winning franchise, that was a different Will. And they called him Will the Thrill for a reason, right? And you know what he's capable of. He can get you a bucket.

A lot of these guys grew up watching him as well. Shoots a high clip from 3. And if you're the Toronto Raptors and Raptors fans, that's an area of emphasis, an area where we've needed some improvement, right? So he's capable of doing that.

You get a guy that's a skilled guy, just flat out. He's not a 6' 8" athlete that can cover a lot of real estate, tremendous amount of ground on two steps. But he can put the ball on the floor.

He can shoot it a bit. He can get to the rack. He can rebound. So he can do a lot of different things, skills that you've needed, right, another guy that can-- point blank, he's just a hooper, right?

He may break a play now and then, but he's also the guy that can break a play and convert. He's also a guy that you can trust at the end of a shot clock to create his own shot.

So I like the move. I think it's going to help once he gets acclimated. The tough side is, you don't have a large window to gain that chemistry or gain that cohesiveness. You're in the last lap of the season, right?

But he's a veteran around the league, so that may expedite the process. And you have some great guys around you.

IMMAN ADAN: Right? Yeah, I was so surprised to watch Nick Nurse just throw him in. I was like, oh, OK, like, that-- but you mentioned it, he is, and you talked about it a little bit. Like, looking into the numbers with the Wizards, I agree they're kind of having just such an odd year.

He didn't shoot particularly well from anywhere in the 2-point range. But last year, over 50%. So I mean, like, do we think that there's such a significant drop-off in a year? Probably not, so it'd be interesting to see where he falls in Toronto.

But you mentioned it, the Raptors need shooting. And he is a shooter as well, right? He's a scorer, point blank, period. But they need shooting right now, when you're a team that really lacks some.

And his catch-and-shoot numbers have just been absolutely spectacular this year. He's shooting 45% on catch-and-shoots on two attempts a game, just under that. And so you look at someone like Juancho Hernangómez, who unfortunately, the Raptors did have to let go, they really brought him in for that shooting. And his catch-and-shoot numbers were 26%.

And so that right there is just such a major difference for what you're looking at when Will Barton does play with the starters, and he gets some minutes with whether it be Fred-- and the Raptors do play so many hybrid lineups, he'll probably be in there with a Fred or a Scottie at any given time. So someone who can set 'em up, and someone-- and he can just sort of exist there to space the floor, and also as a downhill threat as well, just gives the Raptors some more looks, so it'll be interesting.

People wanted a guard. They really, really wanted a guard. And now, they have one. And this team wanted depth. And now, they have that.

JEVOHN SHEPHERD: Said you wanted a center, you got one. You wanted another guard, you got one. You wanted depth, well, you've got Gary, Will coming from the bench. You've got everything, right?

IMMAN ADAN: You wanted depth, and let me tell you, nobody played more than 35 minutes last night. How's that for depth?

JEVOHN SHEPHERD: Hey, that's gonna be good. I mean, at the same time, you know, you've got to have results to stop some of the chatter and stop some of the talk, and criticism, so forth. And that's the nature of the beast, right?

This is sports. You're evaluated on wins and losses, right? And if you're racking up the L's, then you give people more reason to talk.

If you're racking up wins-- and again, the reality is in Toronto, we've been spoiled here. We've had a lot of success over the last years. We have a championship.

So your fan base has grown since the last decade, right? They're more knowledgeable. They pay more attention, right?

IMMAN ADAN: And there's so much more content out there for people to learn. This didn't exist 10 years ago.

JEVOHN SHEPHERD: Exactly. Well, listen, we're here talking about basketball, so that should tell you. But no, I'm excited for the group. I think they're headed in the right direction.

I think this road trip right here, this two weeks is going to be-- it's going to be interesting. We're going to learn a lot about the team. They're going to learn a lot about themselves.

But there's also going to have to be a concerted effort to really just come together, and trust, and believe, buy in. Because again, a lot of guys are in different roles. You look at Precious Achiuwa right now, his minutes have tailed off a bit.


JEVOHN SHEPHERD: That's also because you have the addition of Poeltl, right? And he's playing really good basketball. You have Chris Boucher who's playing good basketball.

So guys have to understand and really recreate their niche as well while those new pieces are getting acclimated. So everybody is trying something different. You talk about a guy like Fred. Now, he has to understand, how do I get Poeltl involved? How do I get Will Barton involved when he gets up to speed? How do I-- those new roles.

Gary Trent, Jr., I'm coming off the bench now. How do I impact the team and impact the game? And I still think Gary's done. He's been the consummate pro. His minutes, his role has bounced around all year.

And for a guy that needs to get shots and wants to score the basketball, you know, I find him really unselfish at times, really unselfish. He gives up some shots to get other guys opportunities. And sometimes, the ball sticks, and he doesn't get an open shot.

So there's a lot of moving pieces, or was a lot of moving pieces. And now, that dust has kind of settled, kind of settling. And you want to see how it's going to-- how it's going to lay out.

IMMAN ADAN: Yeah, I think a lot of people focus in on, like, the passes that a guy like Fred or a guy like Gary make, and label them selfish or unselfish based on the way that they're playing. And it's like they're your two shot creators.

Like, Gary's the type of guy-- you mentioned it with Will Barton, but Gary's the type of guy where a play breaks down, and you need someone who can get their shot off, who can create for themselves, and just create space, and get that off. That is a Gary Trent, Jr.

And in order to keep defenses honest, it's kind of a need. Like, I think Will was also sort of talking about this, where it's almost the role that you're criticizing when you're criticizing their shot selection. It's not so much them, it's the role that they're put in requires them sometimes to be like, yeah, I am going to take this pull-up 3, you know?

JEVOHN SHEPHERD: It's funny because Lou Williams made a career off of just being that guy.


JEVOHN SHEPHERD: I'm hired to get you a bucket, right? And I see the Will Barton signing, it's similar in that sense to me in where Will's role right now-- and I think a lot of times in the year, during the season, there's been droughts where the Raptors just couldn't score the basketball for two or three minutes at a time, putting so much more pressure on their defense.


JEVOHN SHEPHERD: Well, check in, Will. You've got a job to do. Go get us a bucket. Go figure it out--


JEVOHN SHEPHERD: --would be my take. So it's that similar Lou Will role, which he's made--

IMMAN ADAN: And I love the fact that you mentioned that because there was a point where-- I think it was Kyle went down, and you needed Lou Will to step up in a point guard role, right? That's not necessarily his role, but he did.

And what did you see from Lou Will? You saw some playmaking that I don't think I've ever, ever seen in his career because his role changes. So sometimes it's not the player, it's just the role that they're in and what it requires from them.