Scottie Barnes' emerging passing craft & playmaking with Raptors

On this episode of Spotlight, Samson discusses Scottie Barnes dealing with teams game planning against him and while there have been hiccups, he's succeeding as a playmaker.

Video Transcript


SAMSON FOLK: Scottie Barnes start to his sophomore season has left quite a few people wanting, because his progressions haven't been the big flashy kind, and because he's struggling at a lot of the same things now that he was last season. His course progression has never been linear, will never be linear, and peaks and valleys are part of every single player's game. This is how development works.

I would like to, however, focus on what has mostly been a peak, his passing, something that is trending in the right direction for certain. This is "Spotlight." I'm Samson Folk, and let's talk about it. So let's start with the numbers. His assist percentage has spiked from last season at 15% to 21.5% this season. And the raw assists go from 3.5 to 5 assists per game.

And on top of that, he's actually improved his assist to turnover ratio. All of that stuff trending in the right direction. And on top of that, he's making decisions that complement his skill and size. And Scottie burst onto the scene as a robust transition playmaker because of his size and vision. Open court situations put defenses in awkward positions where they have to choose which lane to fill and when, and at high speeds.

Scottie size always pressures the rim. His vision keeps every passing play, and its feel and touch as a passer delivers every kind of pass into the shooting pocket, or exactly where a rim runner needs it. The idea is obviously to mimic these situations as much as possible in the half-court. Of course, this all hinges on Scottie being able to get downhill, to mimic that transition aspect, to move towards the basket with the rest of his teammates.

And that, of course, depends on him being able to beat his guy. The Raptors have done this by running snug pick and roll, slips to the rim, any type of screen action to get someone on the move and filling the lane, and Scottie moving downhill with them. His size as a passer creates superhighways from long arm, the long arm, less arc on the pass, more speed through the finish. There's a lot of room for growth in this area.

Additionally, a huge benefit is Scottie's improved efficiency as a shooter. He's shooting 40% on catch and shoot looks from 3 on over 2 attempts a game this year. And while that doesn't necessarily mean that teams are falling over themselves to chase him out there, it does mean that the Raptors are OK with him shooting as an outcome.

Far better outcomes typically though are when he gets to playmake from the perimeter to the interior. Against shifted defenses or on broken plays, he's finding the cutter and passing guys into layups. His vision is special all the time. It's just about putting him in positions where he gets to see reads that are a little bit more dangerous.

This is the non-linear progression aspect of things. While, yes, he's not coming down the court beating guys and spraying to the corner like a lot of wing stars do, he's chugging along with his own types of positives. And what's good and has always been good, is the touch passes, the trigger man reads out of set actions, and the lay downs interior to interior passing. His length, both in the arms and in his stride, make every wraparound pass a possibility. The no looks aren't just for the open floor, they're for navigating tight spaces as well.

All of this stuff remains a focal point of his game and a place where the Raptors can continue to put points on the board. His limitations on offense are very clear at this point. And last night, Jayson Tatum alluded to the fact that game plans have started to change for Scottie Barnes. It's not the same as it was last season.

JAYSON TATUM: Love the way he competes on both ends, how talented he is. And it's like, the cat is out the bag. He's not surprising people anymore. So I think everybody in his second year is on that trajectory knows. He's going to be fine.

SAMSON FOLK: He's had trouble adjusting. What he hasn't done though, is stagnate as a passer. His reads continue to improve, and not just in the friendliest of circumstances, but in the tougher ones as well. These are quiet building blocks, absolutely, but then yet another point of strength. Points of strength, places to work from, young players are trying to collect as many of those as possible.

Scottie continues to do so. So keep collecting, Scottie. Viewer, I hope you enjoyed this. I've been Samson Folk. This has been "Spotlight." If you want more of this, stay tuned with Yahoo Sports, stay tuned with the "Spotlight" playlist on their YouTube channel, and check me out at I'll see you.