Everyone is expecting big things from Scottie Barnes in his second season with the Raptors.
Even the man himself is.
In an interview with SLAM’s Deyscha Smith, the reigning Rookie of the Year shared his plans on how he will build on his impressive first season in the league. His trainer then added fuel to the fire in an interview with Sports Illustrated’s AllRaptors’ Aaron Rose, in which he said Barnes will be “much better” this coming season.
There is no doubt that Barnes has the potential to become a special player. (After all, the Raptors wouldn’t be interested in sharing him for Kevin Durant, a 12-time All-Star who is still in talks for the best player in the league. There’s a reason for that.)
But what are reasonable expectations for the recently 21-year-old advancing? Could he join Vince Carter as the second player in franchise history to make the All-Star team as a sophomore?
Let’s take a closer look at two improvements Barnes needs to make this summer to unlock his Year 2 All-Star potential.
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Where Scottie Barnes can improve the most after a standout rookie season
Become a more reliable shooter
Barnes was better than expected from midrange last season. It was from the perimeter where he really struggled. He tried 2.6 3-pointers per game and knocked them down at a 30.1 percent clip.
For perspective, Barnes was one of 224 players to try at least 150 three-pointers in the 2021-22 season. Of those players, only 20 were linked with a worse clip than him, listing the likes of Josh Giddey, Russell Westbrook and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
That puts a lot of red on the good old shot card.
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Of course, becoming a more efficient 3-point shooter would do wonders for both Barnes and the Raptors. Not only would this add to the team’s spacing – Barnes was one of the least efficient spot-up threats in the league as a rookie – but it would open the door for him to be involved in more actions like pick-and-go. pops.
“I’m just working on getting to the basket, not stopping on the floor,” Barnes told Smith. “Scoring, in the midrange and just being a consistent shooter. Being able to get shots consistently, being able to act like one of those top guys in the league that way.”
However, Barnes is almost certainly not going to turn into a knockdown shooter overnight. The way Pascal Siakam has progressed from the 3-point range should actually serve as a solid blueprint for him to follow.
In his first two seasons, Siakam combined shot 21.6 percent of the 3-point range at an incredibly low volume. He then shot a career-best 36.9 percent in his third season, only he was limited to mostly the corners and still wasn’t a particularly great shooter. It wasn’t until his fourth season that he felt more comfortable shooting over the break and from the dribble.
Siakam’s three-point attempts have declined in each of the last two seasons, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s a much better and more versatile three-point shooter than when he first entered the league.
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Become a deadlier one-on-one scorer
Based on what his trainer had to say, developing more go-to moves has been a focus for Barnes this off-season. Why? To “become much more efficient on the half court.”
Even as a rookie, Barnes was near the top of the NBA in transitional scores. He was also a leading scorer on cuts and on putbacks. Although he showed the ability to take his own photo, we didn’t see much of it.
Barnes had slightly more unassisted baskets (238) than assisted (221) baskets last season, but a large proportion (59) of those unassisted baskets were putbacks.
His willingness to run across the floor in the open field, play off-ball and attack the glass already makes Barnes a pretty malleable player – as he’s shown time and time again, he doesn’t need plays to deal damage. target – but the more he grows as a playmaker, the more attacks the Raptors can run through him.
Again, Barnes showed enough last season to believe he could become more of a maker, especially outside of the position. He was already a hard cover for smaller defenders in the low block due to his size, and he has apparently added 10 pounds more to his frame.
His trainer also made it sound like we could expect even more shine from him from the post.
“His turnaround in the middle of the post either way, that’s, like, he’s going to make a lot of it,” Brian Macon told Rose. “Like, those will be like his money shots. Especially if he’s bringing in smaller guys.
“So I think he’s just going to be able to get downhill a lot easier than he was and he put on about 10 pounds. So he’s about 235 (pounds). He’s about 235.6% body fat. So he’s a perfect, like , he looks like a created player.”
If that doesn’t get you excited to see what Barnes has in store for Year 2, then I don’t know what will.