Sports

For the Raptors, Scottie Barnes Can Do a Little Bit of Everything

When the Toronto Raptors chosen ahead Scottie Barnes with the fourth decide of the 2021 N.B.A. draft, some people within the basketball world raised their eyebrows. Jalen Suggs, thought of one of many can’t-miss prospects, was nonetheless on the board.

One common season later, the Raptors look prescient. The 20-year-old Barnes is a high contender for the Rookie of the 12 months Award. He’s evoked comparisons to Vince Carter and Damon Stoudamire, the 2 Raptors who’ve been named rookie of the yr.

“I had truly by no means been to Toronto,” Barnes instructed The New York Occasions not too long ago. “I by no means even considered being in Toronto. It was simply by no means a thought in my thoughts. It’s not as totally different as I believed it will be. The one factor that’s totally different is simply that climate, as a result of I’m from Florida.”

At his greatest, the 6-foot-9 Barnes is a flexible dynamo with a recreation much like, however a lot much less refined than, that of Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo. This season, Barnes started all 74 of the games he performed in, averaging 15.3 factors, 7.5 rebounds and three.5 assists per recreation on 49.2 % capturing. In a single blink, he can velocity the ball up court docket as a quasi-point guard. In one other, he assaults the rim for thunderous dunks. Raptors Coach Nick Nurse has typically had Barnes defend high gamers, together with Kevin Durant and Luka Doncic.

Now, he’s a key to Toronto’s hopes to win the championship. He matches the mildew of the gamers who helped the Raptors win the franchise’s first title, in 2019, Basic Supervisor Bobby Webster stated.

“These actually type of versatile, lengthy forwards that may do a bunch are simply laborious to come back by,” he stated. “And in the event that they hit, they are often actually beneficial and productive gamers.”

The query mark for Barnes is his long-range capturing. He hit simply 30.1 % of his 3-pointers throughout the common season, and even that was an enchancment on his lone yr at Florida State College, the place he shot 27.5 percent from 3.

Barnes, who grew up in West Palm Seaside, Fla., helped the Raptors declare the fifth seed within the Jap Convention and a matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers within the first spherical of the playoffs. Throughout Recreation 1 on Saturday, Barnes was given the duty of making an attempt to include James Harden, however he left the sport with an ankle harm and was out for Recreation 2 on Monday. Toronto missed Barnes’s protection and vitality, and misplaced in a 112-97 blowout to fall to 0-2 within the sequence. Recreation 3 is Wednesday, and it’s not clear if Barnes will be capable of play.

In an interview with The Occasions earlier than the playoffs, Barnes mentioned the robust begin to his profession, his confidence stage and his marketing campaign for the Rookie of the 12 months Award.

This interview has been condensed and edited for readability.

It was thought of fairly stunning on the time that the Raptors picked you at No. 4 within the draft. What ran via your head when your identify was introduced?

Even all through the entire predraft course of, I actually simply went in with no expectation. Actually, paying no thoughts. I actually was simply not worrying about issues that I couldn’t management. So I actually simply went there and simply was me wherever I went. So going into that after they stated my identify, I used to be simply actually excited, actually completely happy. I didn’t actually know what was going to occur, so I didn’t actually have any expectation. So I used to be simply an enormous burst of pleasure.

What do you bear in mind about your predraft conversations with Raptors president Masai Ujiri?

He’s an enormous particular person on successful. Simply successful, successful, successful. So, me, I’m an enormous particular person on successful, too. So, actually, it was similar to, we simply each actually had a mutual thoughts.

What’s been the toughest factor about leaping to the N.B.A. up to now?

Both touring as a lot or simply adjusting to, like, the refs and actually how they name the sport.

When you’ve free time, what do you love to do?

Simply chill on the crib and play video video games.

What are you enjoying proper now?

Play NBA 2K. Name of Responsibility. Fortnite.

While you play 2K, do you play because the Raptors?

I don’t actually play as groups. I normally play a create-a-player mode.

What was your favourite second of the common season?

So certainly one of our favourite video games performed this yr was in all probability with the Brooklyn Nets. Okay.D. [Kevin Durant] and James [Harden]. I feel it was at their home, however we misplaced. However it was an attention-grabbing recreation. There was quite a lot of trash discuss being concerned. So it made it extra enjoyable. There was trash speaking, and we have been trash-talking again, and it was superior. It was happening to the wire, going backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards. However I might say it was an incredible recreation.

Do you trash-talk on the ground?

Typically. Not as a lot, however solely generally I’ll. However I gained’t say a lot out right here.

LeBron James stated he watched you play in seventh grade. Do you know that till he stated that not too long ago?

I don’t bear in mind him saying it. It sounds nice, however I do know he watched me in tenth or ninth grade yr once I performed with Zaire — Dwyane Wade’s son. Him and Dwyane Wade have been courtside watching our video games. I hit a game-winner and I clapped him and D-Wade up. I used to be hype and I went to the sideline and sniped D-Wade and Bron’s hand after the sport as a result of I simply hit a buzzer-beater. However to see these guys simply say these issues about me, it exhibits that individuals see that potential in me of what I can do.

Have been you one of many standard youngsters at school? What have been you want?

I used to be at all times an outgoing child. Not saying I used to be so standard, however, you recognize, I had that core, that little swagger. I used to be very talkative, a child with quite a lot of vitality. So I might say I had quantity of mates. I used to be at all times like a type of humorous youngsters at school.

There are quite a lot of comparisons between your influence as a rookie and Vince Carter’s and Damon Stoudamire’s. Have you ever ever spoken to Vince Carter in any respect?

I truly did. I noticed him at certainly one of our video games this yr and I went as much as him. I stated, “What’s up?” We actually couldn’t have that a lot dialog. I truly noticed Damon Stoudamire on the mall in Boston, and we chatted it up for a short time. Went as much as him. Acknowledged him. And I simply began speaking to him.

What sort of influence are you hoping to depart within the league?

On this league, I might say I wish to, in fact, win rookie of the yr this yr. Be on the All-Defensive crew, a number of instances. Be a future M.V.P. Be a finals M.V.P. Be a finals N.B.A. champion a number of instances. After all, be a multiple-time All-Star. Actually, simply go away that legacy. that I used to be only a nice all-around participant.

Is there one thing that makes you rookie of the yr over the opposite candidates?

Actually simply doing so many various kinds of issues, and being that versatile participant that’s simply having a huge impact on our crew actually successful basketball video games.

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