Entering the 2021-2022 NBA season, the Raptors were tasked with addressing a plethora of unknowns. Their unique amalgamation of players that seemingly all fit into similar spots on the court begged the question of how Nick Nurse would manage his rotations. How would the rebounding fare without a single player standing taller than six-foot-ten? Who would facilitate the offense for the bench, and what would the bench rotation look like? Biggest of all: what would the role be of Toronto’s preeminent asset, Scottie Barnes?
Due to a multitude of injuries, several of the former questions have yet to be definitively answered. For example, the trio of Barnes, OG Anunoby, and Pascal Siakam has spent a total of 75 minutes together this season, and Khem Birch and Precious Achiuwa have appeared together in only 12 games thus far.
Contrarily, Scottie has quickly established through his first 27 career contests that any future decisions the Raptors make should revolve around him. He currently ranks second among all rookies in points per game, trailing only Cade Cunningham, and first in rebounds per game. He’s also top-five among all freshmen in steals, blocks, and assists, essentially pegging him as a frontrunner in the Rookie of the Year race based on raw stats alone, in addition to theslotbuzz.com naming him as one. Still, there’s much more to revere about Scottie’s shockingly impressive rookie season. Below, we bask in five other facts that drop your jaw and invite you to fantasize about what the Raptors rookie could develop into in short order.
38th in RAPTOR WAR
Per FiveThirtyEight, Scottie Barnes ranks 38th in the NBA in RAPTOR WAR, a stat that indicates how many points a player is adding to their team per 100 possessions. Based on the metric, he is currently having a more positive impact on his team than any of Luka Doncic, Paul George, James Harden, or Karl-Anthony Towns. Of course, there are flaws regarding how the advanced metric is calculated, but that won’t curtail our fun. RAPTOR WAR also dictates that Barnes is having the biggest impact on winning among all rookies in his class – something that his win shares would vouch for as well.
Seven 20+ point games
Yes, you read that correct. Scottie Barnes has already recorded 20+ points in seven games this season. The only other rookie to do so is Cunningham: this year’s first overall pick. Barnes is also the first Raptors rookie to accomplish this feat since Vince Carter in 1998. Bonus: he’s also recorded a sub-ten point game just twice this season. Not bad for a zero level scorer.
A laser beam from deep
Among all rookies who have attempted at least 50 shots from three-point range this season, Barnes ranks fifth in accuracy at 35.6% on the season. Over his last 12 games, that figure climbs to 41.3% on 3.8 attempts per game. In his appearances since November 21st, he has connected on 18 total threes, which is a far cry from the 11 that he made during his entire season last year at Florida State.
56.5% of his makes are unassisted
There is a big difference between a player who can score in bunches when their teammates are creating good looks for them, and a player who can walk into 20 points by getting to their spots independently. The latter skillset is much more scalable into superstardom, and that is what Barnes possesses. He has shown that he has the ability to operate in the mid-range and hit step-backs on occasion, bully smaller defenders down low, or knock down the long bomb when he has space to do so. Once he tightens his handle and polishes his arsenal, Barnes looks like he has the potential to be a number 1 option on a contending team.
Board man gets paid
The Raptors have drafted several big men in the lottery over the past three decades: from Marcus Camby, to Chris Bosh, to Andrea Bargnani, to Jonas Valanciunas. Still, it’s Scottie Barnes who is tearing down the most rebounds per game among all Raptors rookies at 8.3. If he can keep this up, his name will be cemented in Raptors history for more than one reason.