Scottie Barnes was one of the surprise stories of the 2021/22 season, winning Rookie of the Year honors and helping the Raptors return to the playoffs. In an interview with Steve Aschburner of NBA.com, Barnes said he understands the game even better now after spending a full season in the league.
“I really know the difference in what it takes to win and how hard each and every game is,” Barnes explained. “So it takes a certain amount of effort every night. I’m really trying to stay consistent with the effort I make on the offensive end and the defensive end. Trying to score points and make winning plays. Try to pull out these wins, because it’s hard to win a game in the NBA. Every possession really counts.”
The 21-year-old forward, who returned to the court tonight after an injury scare over the weekend, focused on off-the-dribble moves during the summer to expand his offensive arsenal. Coach Nick Nurse wants Barnes to become more aggressive in trying to score whenever he has a mismatch.
“I’m a natural passer,” Barnes said. “The first thing I look for, I try to make the right play. See who is open. Try to draw the defense. But it’s just … me trying to be more aggressive, they give me the confidence to do that. That allows me to try to find those mismatches in any way possible. Through pick and rolls or out on the floor. It doesn’t really matter who’s on me, I’ve got to try to do what I do.”
There’s more from Toronto:
- Rookie center Christian Koloko was looking forward to his first matchup with Sixers star and fellow Cameroon native Joel Embiid tonight (video link). Koloko told reporters he hopes it will inspire youngsters in the African country to see two Cameroonian players face each other in the NBA.
- Raptors president Masai Ujiri was fined $35K for approaching the scorer’s table during Saturday’s loss to Miami and “directing inappropriate remarks toward a game official,” the NBA announced (via Twitter).
- Otto Porter Jr., who still hasn’t made his debut with the Raptors, missed another game tonight with a strained hamstring, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports. Nurse said Porter is getting closer to being ready, and with just one game over the next four days, there’s hope that he will benefit from extra practice time.