Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse explained Friday how rookie Scottie Barnes has improved throughout the season to be a consistent contributor to the team.
Barnes has proven to be one of the best freshmen this season and is on course to win Rookie of the Year. He was considered one of the most versatile players in the rookie class and has demonstrated that ability every night this season.
The Raptors have often implored Barnes to stay aggressive because the team generally performs best when he attacks on offense and involves others. It’s something the team stayed on him on, but it’s an area Barnes is improving in, Nurse said.
We kind of talked about that all season long just get aggressive make sure you get a few shot attempts make sure you try to get it to the front of the rim and make sure you to do it consistently. I think he did a good job in that regard. He played a little more physically here in the second half of the season, which is a good sign. I would say he has learned that when he gets the chance, he has to grab it instead of sitting around and moving it around hoping it will come back to him.
Barnes, in 69 games, has been pivotal for the Raptors.
The fourth pick is averaging 15.4 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.1 steals on 49.1% shooting from the field. He ranks third in points and rebounds, while having the third-most 20-point games (17) among rookie players.
Starting every game as a rookie is a bit of a rarity, especially on a playoff team like the Raptors. Initially, the team wasn’t sure Barnes could score at a consistent level to remain a starter, but Nurse and the Raptors are comfortable with his progression.
I think what we thought we had was a versatile guy who can play both sides and can do a bit of everything. The concern was: was he going to score enough at the NBA level? He has historically never put big numbers. I would say he looks like he can score quite adequately for a 20-year-old and it just keeps growing. His perimeter game is growing and all of those things. I think that was probably the biggest question mark. I’m not saying it’s been answered, but it seems the trend is in the right direction.
Barnes’ rookie campaign has certainly garnered a lot of attention and it should earn him some accolades at the end of the season. He has apparently impressed his team and many of his peers along the way and that should only increase as he develops on the pitch.
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