Scottie Barnes is back! Here's what the Raptors changed

Amit Mann discusses how the Toronto Raptors have evolved Scottie Barnes' role in their offence and how it's paying off for everyone. Subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Video Transcript

AMIT MANN: The conversation around the Toronto Raptors have been extremely negative of late-- I mean, losing to undermanned teams, trade rumors out of their wazoo. We could all use a spirit lifting, and so Scottie Barnes. Over his past 10 games, he has been flourishing. And due to the credit of Scottie Barnes himself and the Toronto Raptors, they have found a role that fits him and the tempo that he needs to play at to be successful.

So without further ado, let's talk about it. Don't be shy. Subscribe on YouTube to our channel, and let's begin.

It started 10 games ago against Indiana. Scottie is screening, rolling, playing with the pace, surveying for cutters. He's got the ball in his hands more, and the results have been there. Scottie over his last 10, 20 points, eight rebounds, five assists, 52% from the field, 2.6 stocks. Yes, I'm rounding up a little bit, but that's OK.

And really, I mean, Scottie has a lot of the characteristics of a great screener-- a wide base with his power and long legs so you'll get that solid contact on screens, and then he has nice footwork, an explosion as a roller. He can be leveraged in go screens or short rolls to create advantages for your offense.

On the season, Scottie's point per possessions as a roll man is 1.42, which is the same as Nikola Jokic, but Jokic is doing it much more frequently. So even if Scottie did it a lot more and the Raptors as a whole used that play style more and his numbers dipped down to 1.32, for example, he'd still be in the same conversation as Domantas Sabonis and LeBron James as a roll man. It kind of makes you think why the Raptors weren't doing this sooner.

Anyways, Barnes is averaging just over 3.8 more screen assists points per game over his last 10, and not to mention he's finding cutters and shooters off his own dribble penetration and finishing with floaters, push, and hook shots to make teams pay.

Now, we remember the Milwaukee game where Scottie was extremely passive and wasn't shooting the ball, and then all of a sudden in the fourth quarter and overtime he explodes. Very strange. Kind of makes you think like why wasn't Scottie doing that earlier in the game? I asked him about it.

SCOTTIE BARNES: Felt like that's me being-- waiting too long, waiting over three quarters to not be aggressive. I feel like that's a different situation. Still trying to get ball movement, find better floor spacing, try to move it side to side, but still got to try to be able to take those aggressive looks and be able to go downhill.

AMIT MANN: Next action basketball-- Marc Gasol-esque actually with the Toronto Raptors. DHO, screen, roll, side-to-side movement, and then resetting your actions if need be. Barnes has that responsibility now, and he's embracing playing with that pace. His touches are up, but time of possession, average seconds per touch, and dribbles per touch are all down.

And while the defense is MIA lately for the Toronto Raptors, their halfcourt offense over their last 10 is much better. On the season, 92.5 points per 100 halfcourt plays, ranking 27th in the NBA. But over the last 10, 100 points per 100 halfcourt plays, 16th, much better.

He does have to remain aggressive looking for his own shot and looking to be a scorer with the Toronto Raptors. If he doesn't, we're going to see what happened in that Bucks game. Defenses are going to sag off him. They're going to let him shoot, and the Raptors offense is going to be compromised.

But if he doesn't do that, he remains aggressive, he takes those open 3's, he takes those midrange pull-ups, he looks to get in the paint, he's going to be much more effective. And as any ball-dominant player knows, if you aren't a threat, the defense will expose you.

And as he develops as a three-level scorer, we're going to see a lot more of what he did against the Timberwolves. The step-back pull-up was pretty, and after that, he hits this late-clock pull-up 3 on Naz Reid. And fast forward to late in the fourth quarter. Naz Reid bites on this pump fake and Scottie gets a dunk. Probably should have been an and-1, to be honest.

In the meantime, though, Scottie is not being asked to be a floor stretcher anymore, thank goodness, because that's not his strong suit right now. What they need him to do is be in the paint causing havoc and getting rebounds. He's taking two more shots in restricted area per game and two less 3's.

Now, as I said, he's got to take the open 3's when they're there, but increasing his paint touches over the last 10 games is improving his net rating, effective field-goal percentage, true shooting percentage. It's all good from that standpoint for Scottie Barnes. This is how he has to play.

And also all this is happening on the same kind of usage. And when Scottie Barnes is a high-usage player, good things happen for the Toronto Raptors.

In transition he's a monster nailing hit-ahead passes, driving and kicking, or pitching to his teammates for layups, and then sometimes he will just overwhelm his opponent with his strength and finesse around the basket. And as a passer in the halfcourt, Scottie's basketball IQ, size, and strength allow him to capitalize on passing windows only available to special players like him, whether it's nailing this one to Pascal Siakam when the Raptors ran a horn set or hitting a backdoor cutting Gary Trent Jr. or putting this pass right in the shooting pocket for Chris Boucher. He makes the impossible possible.

Look, Scottie Barnes has taken a lot of criticism this year from Raptor fans, Raptors media, the NBA as a whole for not living up to that NBA Rookie of the Year status. But he took it all in the chin and used it as motivation, and here he is flourishing now in his sophomore season.

And with the Toronto Raptors, I mean, change seems imminent. It seems like something is about to happen with this team. You just feel it with how they've underperformed this year. But the best change that may happen through it all is Scottie Barnes and the Toronto Raptors finding his ideal role with this team going forward.