After a strong Summer League debut, Toronto Raptors' No. 4 pick Scottie Barnes had a mediocre second game of NBA action.
It is, of course, nitpicking to dissect every exhibition game he plays in, but that's the type of microscope that top picks are under at Summer League.
Barnes finished with 13 points, eight rebounds and one assist, but his scoring efficiency wasn't there. He shot 2-for-8 from the field, struggling to finish around the rim inside, but he did knock down a sweet little turnaround jumper, as well as going 1-for-2 from 3-point range.
Vet move from the rook pic.twitter.com/y9wFvy7cRN- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) August 12, 2021
But there was one thing that stuck out from his second game that could particularly address an area of need for the Raptors: his ability to get to the free throw line.
Barnes got to the line 12 times, going 8-for-12 (66.7 percent) from the charity stripe to make up the majority of his scoring output. This wasn't an area that Barnes excelled in at Florida State. He attempted 2.8 free throws per game, only attempting more than four free throws in a single contest three times out of 24 appearances. His career-high for free throw attempts in a game was eight, a figure surpassed in his second Summer League contest.
That ties back to the improved aggressiveness with which he's playing on the offensive end, something I touched on following his debut.
Even though Barnes wasn't finishing at the basket, it didn't prevent him from attacking. This impressive dribble series to get to the rim with first-round pick Jonathan Kuminga picking him up over halfcourt was an impressive take that led to free throws:
And that was just one of a few examples where the 20-year-old was looking to create for himself off the dribble, getting all the way to the restricted area for a layup attempt.
This is important because with Kyle Lowry and Norman Powell no longer on the roster, the Raptors are losing two of their most frequent drivers from last season, according to NBA stats. While Toronto is a 3-point shooting-heavy team, it's imperative to have players attacking the basket to create open looks on the perimeter. And it's equally as important to get to the free throw line, something the Raptors have had trouble with over the past few seasons.
Last year, the Raptors attempted 21.3 free throw attempts per game, tied for 17th in the NBA. Under head coach Nick Nurse, Toronto has never ranked in the top half of the league in that category.
However, the Raptors have been successful at the line when they do get there, converting 81.5 percent of their free-throw attempts last season, good for fourth-best in the league.
Barnes shot 62.1 percent from the free throw line in college and he's shooting just 68.8 percent (11-for-16) from the line in Summer League. That's an area he'll have to improve on to make his assertiveness in driving to the rim a useful skill for the Raptors, but drawing fouls is half the battle.
It's something for the No. 4 pick to build upon with three Summer League games remaining.
You can catch Barnes and the Raptors back in action against No. 2 pick Jalen Green and the Houston Rockets on Thursday, Aug. 12 at 8 p.m. ET on TSN 4.
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