Rookie Scottie Barnes may be the fulcrum on which the Raptors‘ future balances, according to Michael Grange of Sportnet. Barnes was stellar during the team’s current five-game winning streak, with all the victories coming on the road.
Barnes is an extremely versatile player who epitomizes the positionless nature of the modern NBA. With long arms and a relentless motor, the 20-year-old has an uncanny knack for the ball.
“If you’re a guy who has a nose for the basketball that means usually you have good anticipation about what’s coming ahead of time, before it happens,” head coach Nick Nurse said of Barnes. “Guys that seem to end up where the ball ends up, that takes, I think, an anticipation or a thinking ahead or just playing a lot. I know he’s 20 but we’ve talked about all the stories of they could never get him out of the gym, he was always playing pickup in multiple age groups … he’s played a lot I think to acquire that sense.”
Barnes is one of the leading candidates for Rookie of the Year; through 61 games (35.6 MPG), all starts, he’s averaging 15.3 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.2 SPG and 0.8 BPG on .490/.316/.732 shooting.
At 39-30, Toronto currently has the same record as Cleveland, but the Cavs hold the tiebreaker for the sixth seed in the East.
Here’s more on the Raptors:
- Fred VanVleet‘s maturity makes him the emotional leader of the Raptors, writes Eric Koreen of The Athletic. “Obviously me being the leader and the point guard out there, it’s my job to be the calming presence. Sometimes I do a good job of that, sometimes I don’t. But for the most part, I’m glad with his team’s disposition and whether things are good or bad or up or down, we’ve done a great job of sticking together,” VanVleet said. “I think it just speaks to our chemistry. … We’re (able to have) honest, open communication. And that helps a lot. There are a lot of runs in a game and different things throughout the season, and you got to be able to just stay even-keeled throughout.” The first-time All-Star and 2019 NBA champion has been struggling with a knee injury, but he’s still serving as a mentor and leader for the young Toronto squad, as Koreen details.
- OG Anunoby will miss at least one more week due to his fractured right ring finger, which still isn’t fully healed, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports tweets. He’ll be reevaluated again next week.
- Malachi Flynn had a small tear in his left hamstring, per Lewenberg (Twitter link). Flynn suffered the injury two weeks ago and was ruled out indefinitely, but the hamstring is almost healed and Nurse says Flynn might be back in about a week.
- Count Lakers head coach Frank Vogel as an admirer of Raptors forward Pascal Siakam, as Grange relays (via Twitter). “He’s one of the best players in the league in my opinion,” Vogel said of Siakam. The 27-year-old is having an outstanding season, averaging 22.0 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 5.1 APG, and 1.3 SPG on .486/.358/.744 shooting through 56 games (37.6 MPG) this season.