Scottie Barnes has unleashed his three-point shot and has hit at an impressive rate over the last two games. Here's how teams having to guard him out there changes the Raptors' offence.
KATIE HEINDL: I know we're talking about defense, but I do have, like, an offensive hope, because this is something that's actually happening. And it's Scotty taking and making more threes, because even-- this was like, two weeks ago, I think-- Nurse had talked about that was something he specifically wanted Scotty Barnes to work on, was actually shooting more.
Like, when the ball is in his hands, to not pass all the time. Which is, one, it's phenomenal that that's where Scottie Barnes's brain goes.
AMIT MANN: Yeah.
KATIE HEINDL: Because it just shows that he is a very communicative player. We were talking about IQ earlier. I think he has that in spades. It obviously needs to be honed, but the fact that he wants to pass and he wants to communicate, and he wants to kind of bring his team along is phenomenal for a rookie in his position.
But it's also great to see him taking initiative and shooting more. You know, it helps the spacing of the offense, which has obviously been a little sticky, to be very polite with the Raptors this season.
AMIT MANN: See, that's a good word for their offense, sticky.
KATIE HEINDL: It gives other guys to like, drive, right? And I think all of this is generative of that energy that you're talking about, that's maybe been a little bit touch and go for them. So I mean, I think Scotty Barnes as a conduit-- an offensive conduit in this way-- is a very good and very helpful thing.
AMIT MANN: His improvement on the offensive end has been one of the best parts of the season so far. And not just the three point shooting, because it has gotten much better. But I find that his knifing into the lane when he gets there, he's making better decisions in those moments.
And he kind of has his staples on the offensive end, and he kind of sticks to those. He-- and this is one of the things that probably was very difficult for him-- to start shooting threes, is that he's like, that's not really my game. And so, he's so-- he knows what he can do, he knows what he can't do.
And he's like, I know that I'm not a great three point shooter, so I'm not going to necessarily do that moment-by-moment, because it's not helping the team.
KATIE HEINDL: Yes.
AMIT MANN: But with him, I find there are some drives, like in the past few games. Where you see him, like he's taking Sabonis one-on-one, and he's getting into the lane, and he's reading the space that's around him. He's-- his pace with the space that he has, it's a recognition that he has-- that is just wise beyond his years.
He is so good at such an early age. And him realizing that, and him understanding how important it is that he takes these opportunities when they're in front of him-- because the Raptors, between Pascal and Scotty and OG, there's always going to be some sort of a mismatch.
And we saw that in the Pacers game, is that they realized that, you know, the holiday boy-- you can't really guard Scotty. He's kind of short. And so-- and Pascal, they were putting all their attention towards Pascal. Everyone's putting their attention towards Pascal right now.
And so he doesn't have a lot of space. But who has space? It's Scotty. And they're putting him less along the block and the dunker spot, and they're getting him out to the three point line. So that's going to be one of the best parts about this season, and seeing how their offense grows.
I think he said the other day-- it was after the game-- he said that he's never taken nine threes in his life. Maybe a high school game, but that's how long it's been. And if he's out there hitting open shots, it's going to make life so much easier for Pascal and OG and everyone.
Like, you just have-- the paint's open now. And if they're able to kind of dive into their driving game and get the head of steam towards the bucket, it's going to make them so much better on the offensive end, and is one of the things that's kind of separating them right now.
It's the up and downs, is-- if you have like an Al Horford or a Draymond Green, they're going to double Pascal or do a soft double, and does not get me any room. There's nowhere for Pascal to go. He's either gotta hit a mid-range shot, or is going to be heavily contested, or he's going to kick it out to someone who may not make the shot.
And that's kind of where we are. So the closer they can get to that four out, one in offense is going to make them-- it's going to help their offense so much more. Which is in turn, it's going to help their defense too.
Because as we've seen with any young team, if you're good on offense, you tend to have a little more focus on the defensive end.
KATIE HEINDL: I mean, I think all of this also culminates in the fact that this is going to be Nurse's most challenging season to get creative and get what he needs to out of these guys. You know, not to say he's had it easy. Like, last year was by no stretch of the imagination easy.
But I think this is the most kind of incomplete roster he's ever had to work with. And I would actually like to see him stand to get a little bit more creative. I think he could do it.