It's only game one of the preseason, but boy is it not tough to like what you saw out of Toronto Raptors rookie Scottie Barnes on Monday night.
Barnes finished with 13 points, nine rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks in Toronto's 123-107 win over the Philadelphia 76ers. He did it efficiently, going 6-for-10 from the field.
We knew about his energy. The team had talked about it since the moment he was drafted. The Raptors' social media posts confirmed it with viral videos of him dancing and enjoying life.
Let's play some basketball! #WeTheNorth pic.twitter.com/QW6wbTtkQ0- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) October 4, 2021
But watching him in his first preseason game, you notice that it's not just his boundless energy that makes him special, it's the fact that he can bring energy and still play within himself. Even though he had four turnovers on the night, Barnes didn't look out of place. He didn't look like he was trying to do too much - he just played his game.
And his game is exactly why he'll thrive in the NBA.
Barnes can do it all. He can defend multiple positions at an advanced level, he can attack the rack and find open teammates for easy looks. He can help clear the glass and step up and knock down midrange jimmies.
Is there room for growth? Of course, but early returns are that Barnes already belongs in the Raptors rotation.
Here are three plays that stood out from Barnes' preseason debut.
Play number one I watched over and over because it's simply effort and smarts.
The Raptors get the turnover and Barnes immediately sprints to the rim and tries to seal Danny Green. As the play develops, OG Anunoby finds Barnes on the low block and instead of just putting his head down and looking for his own shot, Barnes calmly surveys the situation, subtly gets his left foot out the paint so he didn't get called for three in the key and finds a slashing Goran Dragic for an easy layup.
It may not seem like much but keep in mind this is a rookie in his first minutes in an NBA preseason game trying to make an impression, but he let the game come to him.
Play number two is the purest of plays from Barnes' night - a clean-looking pull-up midrange jumper over the length of Green.
Barnes identifies that Green is giving him space - after crowding him and seeing Barnes hammer one home earlier in the quarter - and he makes Green pay by putting him on his heels and nailing the jimmy in his grill. Again, the poise here is what stands out. He already beat Green with his quick first step earlier but gave the vet more to think about by stepping into a jump shot with confidence.
This last play is all about hustle. When the Raptors turned the ball over, Barnes' back was to the play. He quickly kicks it into high gear to get back in transition and picks up the open man on the other side of the court. Because of his hustle, he was not only able to contest the shot, but he gets a block which turns into a transition opportunity for Toronto.
His hustle doesn't stop there, though. Because he ran the lane as hard as he did, the paint opened up for Precious Achiuwa, who calmly put it in. Barnes won't get an assist on the play, but he definitely helped created an opportunity for his team without even touching the rock.
Again, it's early in his career and these are only three little things, but if those continue to add up, Barnes could be a big thing for the Raptors this season and beyond.
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