The root of Scottie Barnes' unique basketball IQ

Scottie Barnes' basketball trainer, Brian Macon, joined Amit Mann and discussed how the Raptors rookie developed his elite court sense and took advantage of his time with Team USA as a teenager. The full episode on Barnes' offseason development can be found on the 'Raptors Over Everything' podcast feed and on our Yahoo Sports Canada YouTube.

Video Transcript

AMIT MANN: How is his basketball IQ, like, so vast, so early on in his basketball years? I mean, there are things that he's able to do on the court, in his rookie season, at least, and you're thinking, like, this-- these are things that, like, five-, six-year veterans are doing. But he's already doing it.

And when you talk to Aaron, you mentioned this-- and I fully agree-- is that the Raptors didn't really run plays for Scottie very often. And he was still able to put up, you know, 15 points per game, just within the flow of the offense. He didn't get in the way.

His jumper still needed some work. And I'm sure that's something that you worked on with him. But he was never a problem in the offense. He was always helping movement happen. He was in the right spots. Like, how does that happen?

BRIAN MACON: Firstly, like, he really cares about his teammates, you know. Like, he really wants others to do good. And he really cares about winning. So he wants to do whatever it takes to win.

But he's very intelligent. He's very smart. He's very detail oriented. Like, the other day we were in the gym. And I had the backboards cleaned. I had the backboard cleaned. And he was like, did you get new backboards? And I'm like, what? And I'm like, nah, we had them cleaned.

Like, that's just-- he's just very-- he's just very detail oriented. And he's always paying attention. He's always watching. He's always-- like, a lot of guys can't learn from other people's mistakes. You know, a lot of humans can't learn from other people's mistakes, you know.

So he's able to watch something and then just learn from it. And he's-- and he's very humble, like, where he's going to take coaching. You're going to be able to talk to him and coach him because he wants to get better.

And he watches a lot of film, like, a lot of film. Like, during the predraft-- during the predraft when we were out in Santa Barbara, like, we would be in-- we would be in, like, the room just watching, like, all of his EYBL. Like, we're-- like, his games in EYBL. Like, then we'd be watching, like, his Florida State games.

And even now, like, I sent him some-- I sent him just a breakdown of, like, all of his catches. So he just watches himself play basketball so much. And he's, like, an honest-- he's honest with himself. Like, man, I should have took him there. Or man, I got to knock that down, man. Like, he's just honest.

Like, he's a really honest, hardworking person. But he's very intelligent. Like, he really understands the game. Like, a lot of times you see rookies not understand the defensive rotations. Like, that's why they can't play because they can't grasp that concept.

And if you don't grasp that concept, these guys are too good. They're going to score, you know. So, like, he was-- he's able to grasp those defensive concepts so well because he can lock in. And he can really understand it. And he really, like, loves the game of basketball. Like, he's a basketball junkie, so.

AMIT MANN: Yeah. It showed on the defensive end. I mean, offense, I just mentioned, that he just has that intelligence about him. But defensively, he was asked at times to be, like, a nontraditional five, like, to be the rim protector. And there were some ups and downs with it.

But even the fact that he was able to grasp the concepts at NBA speeds that he hasn't really encountered yet in his first season, I mean, that's what stuck out to me is that he's doing things that there are players on the defensive end that they just can't-- like, they can't get it, right? It takes far too many, you know, reps for them to get there. But he was doing it.

And you saw the progression from, like, the first 20 games then, like, the next 20 games and so forth. You saw him get it more and more, like, with each game. And I wonder if, like, the film that you mentioned, that's something I've heard a lot of players talk about.

But it's something that they do when they're, like, a few years into the league. And they say that now I'm investing in film. But Scottie was doing it right from the get go, it seems.

BRIAN MACON: Mm-hmm. And these kids are-- like, he grew up in Team USA, you know. Like, he grew up around the best players. So he grew up playing [INAUDIBLE] USA. He's getting, like, college and-- college and pro coaches coaching him with Team USA, you know, all the way through.

And then he's-- like, the EYBL, like, that's like a little, like, NBA, basically. Like, there's not many places where they construct a game that's like-- we're going to really-- they really, like, see if you can fit in the NBA game, you know, the way the game is played at, like, as far as, like, even, like, the refs calling the play-- I mean, the refs calling, like, different fouls, how physical it is. And then they have such access to all of their film all the time. You know what I mean?

So it's like-- like, I think these kids like who grow up in AAU now, if you're, like-- if you lock in and you focus, like, there's all the opportunities for you to be, you know, the same as Scottie. It's just a lot of people just, they get hooked on, like, the sneakers that they're giving you or, like, different things like that. And they're not really, like, taking advantage of the full scope of what, like, playing basketball at a very high level from, like, eighth grade to senior, you know, in high school, like, that they give you, so.

And I think Florida State did an amazing job there. They're defensive minded. So he learned a lot of the concepts with them. So, like, Leonard Hamilton does a great job. And they forced him to-- you know, to learn a lot. And they put a lot on his shoulders, like, from day one. So kudos to them as well.