Is Scottie Barnes getting enough touches per game?
Imman Adan and Adon Moss discuss Scottie Barnes' passive habits and how the Toronto Raptors can help get the emerging forward more involved in the offence. Listen to the full podcast assigning grades for all the starters on the 'Raptors Over Everything' podcast feed.
IMMAN ADAN: But growth isn't linear for Scottie. And we did see a tick up. And so, it's really positive, at least for me. And the reason why I'm more optimistic giving him this grade, and I'm not digging him too hard, is because the second half of the year, he was really good.
ADON MOSS: He was.
IMMAN ADAN: He was so much better. And if your struggles as a young guy happen early on, that's fine, especially if you show that improvement. And one thing that I do love about Scottie Barnes, is he could have three terrible quarters. And he'll come out in the fourth quarter and just completely dominate. And I think that level of I'm not going to dwell on my struggles is something that we haven't had from some of these guys.
I think that Pascal, you can see him sort of carry that when he isn't playing well or shooting well. You can see Fred VanVleet want to shoot out of it when he's struggling in that way, where I don't think we have that from Scottie Barnes. I think that there's a level of poise and maturity in that as well. So, I do want to give him credit there for that. So yeah, I think overall, I stand at a B for Scottie Barnes.
ADON MOSS: Yeah, I kind of think about it like-- I don't know if he's got that resilience. But it's almost like he's sitting dormant, and he needs to be ignited. And you know--
IMMAN ADAN: Yes.
ADON MOSS: I think part of that again--
IMMAN ADAN: That's the knock. I completely agree that-- to me, that's a knock. But sometimes when he is struggling, not just sitting dormant, but he's actually trying in the first half. And it's just not working for him. He can still sort of let that wash over. But I completely agree with you with that. And I think that that's sort of a knock where you need him to wake up a little bit earlier.
ADON MOSS: And it ties back to Freddie, right, or Nick Nurse, for that matter. And it's like, you need to identify that Scottie needs to get going early.
IMMAN ADAN: Yeah.
ADON MOSS: And that means like small little plays or finding him in a mismatch. There are so-- and this, I don't want to rag on Freddie too much. But there's so many times where a lot of Scottie, sometimes OG, are just standing there. And it's like they want the pass, but they're not getting the pass. And I think-- and it's crowded for Scottie to operate. Pascal eats into what Scottie wants to do. OG does. Poeltl did eventually. Even Freddie does, because Scottie, he is comfortable bringing the ball up.
And so, I think he had a lot of trouble just figuring out where he fits and how. And before, as a rookie, you're differential, right? You're just happy to be here. Second year, you want to spread your wings. And he wasn't really given that opportunity by the coaching staff or by the players. And so, I kind of don't blame him for being dormant, right? And then once that match dropped on that puddle of oil, you saw what happened. And you saw how explosive he could be.
And the last thing I'll say is, we're watching these playoffs. Guys are getting benched, because it's not the best lineup to send out there, right? So Sabonis stopped for a while, and Trey Lyles came out. Randle was off for a while. Jordan Poole has been sitting for a while. I've been wanting to see Scottie come off the bench. I know it's not great for his ego necessarily, or for his development. But it's going to give him so much more space to operate.
And so, I think that's one thing I feel like Nurse was just really obstinate about who starts and who plays. And we saw when Gary came off the bench, how beneficial that was. And I think Scottie would kind of benefit from the same.
IMMAN ADAN: You know what? The one game that Nick Nurse did play Scottie and Gary off the bench, that worked really well.
ADON MOSS: Loved it.
IMMAN ADAN: Because-- and something that I-- me and Asad have talked a lot about this on here. Which is that, Gary Trent Jr. is not Jamal Crawford. He's not Lou Williams. And that's to say, he's not even-- he doesn't have that Norman Powell either, which that's more his point. I think he's more similar to that at the very least, which is when you have your sixth man who is your ISO scorer, your microwave scorer, he's got to also be a good play-maker.
That's part of the game, even with Will Barton right now. You have someone, yes, who's more naturally a two guard, but can be your one. You need someone who can play-make. And that's not something Gary Trent Jr. has. He can create for himself. But he can't create for others. And so, when you are coming in with your bench lineup, and you're the main guy, how can you create for everybody else, when you're the defense, when you have the defensive focus on you?
And so to me, Scottie and Gary together there--
ADON MOSS: Perfect.
IMMAN ADAN: That completely changes it. Because you have the spacing that Gary has, right? Sometimes when Scottie plays those hybrid lineups with Pascal, it doesn't make sense. Because you just-- OK, so no spacing is the goal here? So, you have the spacing, but you also have someone who can create with Scottie Barnes. And I think that works well. And I think people get really up in arms over the conversation of if Scottie should start or if he should come off the bench, as though it's a demotion. And I don't think it is.
But he can still start, in my opinion. You can still have him as your starter. But I think those hybrid lineups that you're playing with the bench, because the Raptors don't have five bench guys that they can throw out anyway. So, there's got to be some sort of hybrid lineup. I think that's when you should get a lot of on-ball reps for Scottie Barnes. And I think they should work with a Gary Trent Jr. Because you just need that sort of spacing that he offers. He also has great connection with OG Anunoby. So, maybe that's you're hybrid bench lineups that you're working in, and then Fred and Pascal with the bench can be that other hybrid.
I'm interested in seeing what those rotations look like. But those three guys together make a lot of sense to me, where you have Scottie with the ball in his hands. Because I think people get really caught up in the fact that Fred VanVleet takes away Scottie Barnes possessions and on-ball reps. Which is like, first of all, everyone needs-- Luka Doncic has been dying for a point guard. That's what they finally brought in Kyrie Irving after getting rid of Jalen Brunson.
You need to have a secondary ball handler. You need to have a point guard. And Fred VanVleet is that. And the fact of the matter is, Scottie Barnes' handle is not tight enough to get into the teeth of the defense. How often do we see the Raptors get real paint touches, when you're getting Scottie Barnes as the guy who's handling the ball and initiating offense? It's very rare. And how late do they get into the offense? Why does so much of the offense get initiated from above the break? Look at the top of the key. Look, why-- why don't we get in a little bit more? Why don't things happen a little bit faster?
It's because he's still working and developing those reps. And I think that works much better in hybrid lineups with the bench. Because I think that we can see that growth from Scottie Barnes. I'm not saying that he's not. He can never be. He won't ever be. He's not a Magic Johnson type. That's fine. There's no ceiling that I'm ever going to put on a guy like Scottie Barnes. I'm just dealing with the comments that I know are going to come.
I'm never going to put that limit on Scottie Barnes. But we know right now with where he is best, with the starters, is in that Jakob Poeltl role, which sucks, because Jakob Poeltl is right there. And he's benched with the best-- where he's best with the bench, is as that guard, which is interesting. Now that I'm remembering that Jakob Poeltl is here, I'm really stuck on this idea of, yeah, when he starts, it's unfortunate. Because you're not going to put the ball in his hands if you have Fred VanVleet there. And you're not going to--
ADON MOSS: And you're not running the screens with him.
IMMAN ADAN: He's not-- yeah. You don't want him just standing in the dunker spot. What are you going to do? It'll be an interesting question for the future coach.
ADON MOSS: I'm sure it's something that's being run in the interviews a lot, and rotations being a big question. And I 100% agree with you. And Scottie loves to distribute the ball. That's kind of why I liked having Dowtin out there, is because he's one of the few guys out there who really enjoys-- sorry, who really enjoys moving the ball. Their first thought is to pass the ball, not to score. And that was kind of rare with the Raptors this year.
And on that note about Gary and Scottie, I looked at the core four being OG, Poeltl, Freddie, and Pascal.
IMMAN ADAN: Yeah.
ADON MOSS: When it's Scottie off, in 230 possessions, they're plus 10.3 per 100 possessions. When Scottie and Gary are off, that core four is plus 20 per 100 possessions, in only 147 possessions. So, they can survive without it, right, is the point. And--
IMMAN ADAN: Very well.
ADON MOSS: We'll talk. The depth is an issue.
IMMAN ADAN: Yeah.
ADON MOSS: And part of it, is that we didn't get the right guys together. And part of that, is we're just super top heavy on the starters. But I've been dying on this bench Gary, Scottie hill all year. So, maybe I'm just getting it out of my system, but.
IMMAN ADAN: I'm not mad at it. I'm not mad at it.