The mostly highs and some lows of Scottie Barnes’ season

Toronto Raptors rookie Scottie Barnes got off to a quick start with the Raptors but has now seemingly hit a bit of a rookie wall. Amit Mann discusses what’s changed and how Barnes can get through this rough patch.

Video Transcript

AMIT MANN: Let's move on to another player who's going to be a force, and that is Scottie Barnes, who's slumping a little bit at the moment, you know? I think that's fair to say that Scottie is having some trouble here and there with his game. And right now, he's actually-- this is a good stat from Joshua Howe. You can find him on Twitter.

At Florida State last year, Scottie Barnes played a grand total of 595 minutes in 24 games. And this season, through 15 games with Toronto, he's already locked 530 as a full time starter. So I'm sure his legs are a little bit heavy at the moment.

He doesn't maybe have as much pop as he had earlier on the season. And I mean, teams are figuring them out, and they're also figuring out Scottie-- that, you know, his limits within his range at the moment, the fact that he doesn't have too much confidence in his 3 point shot. His put backs aren't nearly as available.

And so this is going to be part of his NBA maturation. But overall, he's still one of the leading candidates at the moment for Rookie of the Year. You see those graphics go around.

And he's still up there. And you just have to be so impressed by his passing ability. He picked up the pace of the NBA lot faster than I thought he would.

He still-- you know, he has his games where he's turning the ball over quite a bit. But the way he's able to pass the ball in transition and the reads he's able to make are extremely impressive. He's just-- he's got this ability about him, man.

Like, it's a basketball IQ that you can't teach. It takes years for players to learn that and to be able to think at the speed of the NBA. And he's already able to do it. Took him a couple games, right?

So he's wise beyond his years in that area. And you know, his touch around the bucket is another area that's been really, really impressive. He's just got this knack for just getting the ball in the hoop.

Granted, it helps that he's, like, you know, that size, that stature. He does have the mismatch quite a bit down there. But there's a lot of bodies down in the paint, and he's able to continue to finish, which is-- it's been an impressive part of his game.

I just talked about Pascal's inability at times to get the ball in the hoop because just his lack of pop in his floaters. And you know, Scottie kind of has that down to some degree. Lots of room for growth, but Scottie's-- he's got an ability to focus in those situations, and he's got a calm about him that is truly going to make him a special player and a special finisher in the NBA as he continues to figure out his game.

His 3-point shot is still a bit of a struggle, and I think that's one of the areas Nick Nurse has talked about that he wants Scottie to help. He wants them to shoot him like, you know, four 3's, right, in some situations. And I think Scottie-- I mean, I'm sure he'd like to as well.

But what makes Scottie unique is that he doesn't want to do things that aren't exactly going to help the offense. And he knows that if he takes four 3-point shots, you know, percentages are that he's going to make one of them. But if he takes a step in and then he shoots, now he's a lot more comfortable, and there's a higher percent chance that those balls are going to go in. And so he's been lending towards doing those.

But against the Warriors, he took a few more 3's, and I'm sure those are going to come in time. And as Nick Nurse also mentioned as well that the quicker he's willing to take those shots, the quicker he's going to make them. So we get there, you know, the Raptors are going to be able to extend the floor a little bit, create more space for everyone.

And that's going to be very helpful for their offense. So I wanted to continue to see Scottie do that, man. It's really key that he gets that 3-point shot going.

But on the defensive end, obviously he struggled a little bit over the past little while. Teams are exposing his lack of awareness at times on the defensive end. You know, he's not the best team defender at the moment. Things are kind of-- his head's on a swivel sometimes. He's not really sure where to go.

That's-- it's not just him. It's a few players on the Raptors. A lot of guys don't know exactly where to go.

There have been a lot of cases where you got, you know, two guys closing up to the same shooter. And then there's one more pass to the corner. All of a sudden, someone's got a wide open shot.

It's part of the process with this, but it probably doesn't help that there's so many players learning this at the same time. And so it's making things a lot trickier for Scottie to pick up all these skills. But he's going to get there.

And you look at his face right now, and it's sad in a way because he's kind of losing his spirit. You know, he's a very vibrant guy, and losing hurts him. Losing is not something he's used to.

But you love that it's bothering him that much. I'll say that. You love how much this is affecting him because he's not used to losing to this degree.

And so that's going to make him figure this out even faster because he's motivated. He doesn't want to be the reason why they're lacking on the defensive end or why they're not able to pull up-- play to their potential. He wants to be the reason they're winning games, and he was doing that earlier on the season.

But you know, teams-- like I said, teams are figuring out who the Raptors are, what Scottie's efficiencies are, and they're going to expose them. It's the reality of the NBA, and he's going to continue to learn about that. But you've got to love his ability to-- yeah, his charisma, man.

He continues to play. He's going to keep on playing. He's going to keep on fighting. And that charisma that I mentioned and that willingness to learn is going to be the reason why he figures this out a lot faster than maybe some other players would. So--