Scottie Barnes is the real deal.
Even after a somewhat underwhelming performance on offence against the Brooklyn Nets, his star quality was still apparent to fans and veteran opponents alike.
Scottie Barnes Rookie of the Year 2021-22
“How old is he? 19? 20? Sheesh!” Kevin Durant said.
While the rookie’s numbers are impressive – averaging 16.6 points, almost nine rebounds and a couple of assists per game – it’s the eye test where Barnes really excels.
What other player rips Durant of the ball before reverse dunking it?
Of course, it helps that the team strategy is built around players of his structure.
The length of Barnes, Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby can disrupt any offence – and kept the Nets at bay for much of this week’s affair, before Siakam’s minutes restriction and Harden’s raw scoring talent came into play.
But the strategy – using length and intensity to deflect, disrupt and steal before scoring in transition – is ideal not only for Barnes, but this entire group of players.
Despite losses to the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Nets, the Raptors still possess a record over .500. This roster is far, far ahead of schedule.
If Barnes keeps up this level of play, it’s tough to see who could stop him winning Rookie of the Year.
Evan Mobley is also tearing it up – and the pair facing off in a tight game was something special.
It’s testament to Barnes that he hasn’t immediately been sidelined as soon as Siakam returns. Does Nick Nurse deliberately not want to play with a traditional centre?
Doesn’t matter. He’s got Scottie.
We broke down the Raptors’ winning streak and talked about this season’s unsung heroes on our podcast, Balling In The 6ix – the number one Toronto Raptors podcast based in the UK.