‘A team that’s way better than their record’: Will Barton on Raptors
Raptors guard Will Barton discusses why he chose to join Toronto, what he knows about the team and their reputation in the league.
- So what has the last 24 hours been like for you?
WILL BARTON: A little hectic, a lot of traveling, no sleep, but a blessing at the same time.
- When did you kind of find out this was happening?
WILL BARTON: When you guys found out, really, around the same time, maybe a little bit earlier than you guys.
- You got to Toronto pretty quick, though.
WILL BARTON: Yeah, once it went through, I had to get on a bird and get here ASAP.
- Were there other teams that you were considering? And why Toronto in the end?
WILL BARTON: Yeah, it was some other teams. I was considering. I had a good relationship with Earl Watson. He was my veteran. I was a rookie in Portland. So I have a very good relationship with him.
I talked to Nick Nurse briefly. And I just felt like it was a good opportunity. It's a good team. I feel I could come in, bring some leadership, some versatility, some bench playmaking and scoring, and just a lot of energy.
- How did Earl Sell Toronto?
WILL BARTON: Oh, man, I've been in the league 11 years. So I've been here before. I know it's a pretty good city. I visited here in the summertime a couple of times before when I was a younger player. And me and Earl have a very strong relationship. So I trust him a lot.
- You know any of the players, your new team teammates well?
WILL BARTON: Yeah, I know Thad a little bit. Him being from Memphis and me going to the University of Memphis for two years, we would cross paths and talk and hoop in the summertime a little bit.
- When you're looking at a job like this for the last 20 games or so, is it playing time and a chance to show your skills [INAUDIBLE]?
WILL BARTON: Definitely some playing time to keep proving myself but also just to impact winning. I know we're trying to make a push to get into the playoffs. So it's just trying to find a balance and a mixture for both.
- Good to keep your name out in front of 29 other--
WILL BARTON: Oh, for sure. Anytime you step on the NBA court, it's an audition for the rest of the league.
- When you were looking at this team's roster and how you might fit, did you see a team that is maybe better than its record?
WILL BARTON: Oh, for sure. They have so much talent, that starting five. And then you had Jakob Poeltl, and now bringing Gary off the bench. It's just a lot of firepower. So I just wanted to add any depth I could to this team, definitely a team that is way better than their record. Everyone knows that around the league, very talented, well-coached, a well-run organization. So hopefully we can just keep getting wins and have our record better and get into the playoffs.
- You mentioned Thad. And he was in a similar spot last year, where he came in midseason, relatively young team trying to make a playoff push. And a lot of those young guys really spoke about the value of his experience on the court and off of it. How much do you think the experience that you bring is going to be able to help these guys off the court?
WILL BARTON: I definitely think I could do the same. I was talking to some of the young guys in the locker room yesterday and on the bench. I've been to a Western Conference Finals. I've been to the playoffs, I think, the last five or six years. So I know what it takes to get there and what kind of team we have to be and how well-knit, put-together we have to be, and close.
- What have they told you about your role and what they want you to doing on both sides of the ball?
WILL BARTON: Just coming in on offense, being myself, who I've been my whole career, a playmaker, a scorer, just being versatile. And defense, just get after it, guard, being a help, and just do the things I've been doing for the past 10 years.
- Playing with the Nuggets, what was the identity that you kind of came to expect when going up against the Raptors?
WILL BARTON: A team that was very long and athletic, very versatile, a lot of guys that could do a lot of different things. And we knew they were going to play hard all night, make you work for it on defense. They kind of push you-- try to push you to start your offense way out on the court.
And they're very physical. So we always had to be prepared for them.
- And with a coach like Nick Nurse, going up against the guy that's always throwing different things at you, how much are you looking forward to being in that now?
WILL BARTON: Definitely looking forward. He has a great basketball mind, a lot of pedigree, a lot of respect around the league for a coach that really knows the game. So I'm looking forward to just growing my relationship with him also.
- What are the next couple of games like for you, heading back to Washington then, I guess after that, they have Denver twice? Is that going to feel weird? And do you have the inside scoop on those teams?
WILL BARTON: That's not really weird in Washington. I was only there for half a year, Denver probably more because I was there for so long. But more knowledgeable how Denver play than the Wizards play. But I know a couple of tendencies there. So any knowledge I can give to the team, I'll do my best.