After having a sophomore slump last season, Scottie Barnes is having a terrific start this season. Barnes’ emergence is so good that he could win the Most Improved Player award. It also shows that the Toronto Raptors gave him the keys to the franchise.
Barnes is averaging 20.1 points per game, 9.7 rebounds per game, and 5.6 assists per game. Compared to last season, where he averaged 15.3 points per game, 6.6 rebounds per game, and 4.8 assists per game, it shows that he went to the next level.
The reason for Barnes’ rise this season is that he has the ball in his hands. He is now the guy who will set up the offense for the Raptors in almost every possession. That was Fred VanVleet’s job last season, but he is no longer with the team. Pascal Siakam handled the ball for Toronto for most of last season. But now it looks like Barnes will be the primary floor general.
Here’s an example of Barnes stepping up for the Toronto Raptors
During a game against the San Antonio Spurs, the Raptors played terribly. The Spurs had a 20-point lead at halftime. Toronto had no chance of coming back, but Barnes got them back in the game, and the Raptors won.
Even though Barnes steps up this season, it doesn’t mean he won’t have bad games. Toronto’s last game against the Boston Celtics was his worst game of the season so far. Barnes finished the game with 10 points, five rebounds, and four assists.
His second-worst game was against the Dallas Mavericks. Barnes’ field goal percentage was 26.7 per cent. But he finished the game with 14 points, 14 rebounds, seven assists, four steals, and two blocks. Despite the Mavericks game being his second-worst game so far, it was still decent enough that the Raptors won.
Not counting the game against the Celtics, Barnes can still contribute despite having an awful shooting night by doing everything else well. If Scottie can impact the game positively for the Raptors, aside from scoring, then Toronto should be in the playoffs or play in conversation in the east.
Seeing how Scottie Barnes is playing right now, shows why the Toronto Raptors believe in him and why they refused to trade him when superstar players like Kevin Durant or Damian Lillard were available in trade talks.