Second-year Raptors forward Scottie Barnes, the reigning Rookie of the Year, has been solid if unspectacular this season for Toronto. Toronto point guard Fred VanVleet spoke at length about the 21-year-old’s development in 2022/23 and his long-term outlook, per Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca (Twitter link).
“I think you guys are waiting for him to hatch into some beautiful butterfly, but again, that’s up to him,” VanVleet said. “It’s our job to try to support him in that and tell him the truth and keep him honest and hold him accountable. But at the end of the day, when he plays great we’re happy for him and when he plays bad we’re there for him. The outside noise is always just noise.
“… He’s a hell of a player,” VanVleet continued. “That’s why everybody is so excited about him, which is why the expectations are so high but it’s good for him. There’s gonna be ups and downs, there’s gonna be challenges, but the magic is in making it through that and persevering and fighting through adversity, and he’s done that.”
Eric Koreen of The Athletic notes that Barnes has been somewhat inconsistent this season for the 13-16 Raptors, and seems at times to be an awkward fit alongside Toronto’s best player, All-NBA big man Pascal Siakam.
Through 26 games this season, the 6’9″ Barnes is averaging 14.9 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 4.7 APG, 0.8 BPG and 0.8 SPG. He is posting solid shooting splits of .482/.309/.737.
There’s more out of Jurassic Park:
- After signing a G League contract, veteran NBA swingman Sterling Brown is joining the Raptors’ NBAGL franchise, Raptors 905, reports Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca (via Twitter). Brown still holds intrigue as a high-level shooter. The 27-year-old, a 6’5″ shooting guard out of SMU, has five season of NBA experience under his belt between stints with the Bucks, Rockets and most recently the Mavericks last season. He holds career averages of 5.4 PPG and 3.3 RPG. Brown is also a career 36.4% shooter from long range on 2.6 attempts, which could appeal to a Toronto team in need of help from beyond the arc. As of this writing, the Raptors rank 29th in the league with a 32.4% three-point conversion rate and 22nd in attempts at 31.7 per game.
- Though a sound, versatile defensive unit, the Raptors have struggled on the other end of the floor. When Malachi Flynn was pressed into starting service due to the injury absence of Gary Trent Jr., in an eventual 119-116 loss to the Nets Friday night, he and VanVleet looked like a potent scoring pair, opines Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. Against Brooklyn, Flynn scored 13 points while VanVleet poured in 39. Smith notes that the two guards, both listed at 6’1″, cumulatively went 6-for-14 from long range. Flynn has been nailing 37.6% of his modest 2.5 treys a night. “(If) we can keep finding ways to be effective defensively — I think that’s the number one concern from the coaching staff with both of us out there,” VanVleet said. “I thought we found ways (Friday) and found lineups that can make it work. He was a huge spark plug in making shots, just creating things, and just having another guy that can get in the paint and make plays.”
- In case you missed it, Raptors defensive stalwart OG Anunoby is set to miss at least a week as a result of a sore left hip.