It's hard to pick just one game from Scottie Barnes' rookie of the year campaign, but these ones certainly showed us the growth and potential of the 20-year-old. Listen to the full 'Raptors Awards' episode on the 'Raptors Over Everything' podcast feed or watch on our Yahoo Sports Canada YouTube.
AARON ROSE: The one that came to mind was that early season game from Scottie Barnes it might not have been his best game of the season. You know, I think back about that Lakers game, when he went toe to toe with LeBron or whatever.
But that was the moment where-- I think it was like the second or third game of the season, and we had Celtics fans booing their home team. And we know the Celtics are now one of the best teams in the league and might go on to win a championship.
But on that night, Scottie had the Garden, booing Celtics fans. They didn't know what to do. And his herky-jerky post moves, as Nick says, really had the Celtics you know befuddled. They didn't know how to defend it.
And that was sort of his coming out party. The second or third game of the season, we were realizing, oh, my God. This kid's really special. I'm not sure if we realized he was Rookie of the Year special. But that was sort of the first moment that I was like, this kid is something different.
AMIT MANN: I was going to put it into the, Oh, Shit, Scottie Barnes moments because, at that moment, we realized that this guy is the real deal. He was hitting pull-up 2's, pull up 3's, the offensive rebound in the off-ball movement. And his situational awareness as a offensive player-- that was something that was kind of unheralded.
When he was drafted, there was-- famously, there was a person who said that he was a no-level scorer. And we learned really, really quickly, early on the season that was not true at all, and that he was a jump shot away from being this really difficult match-up.
And again-- I mentioned it earlier with Precious Achiuwa-- like, Scottie Barnes-- like, his ability to finish around the basket is actually incredible. Like, he's got this floater and this awareness composure around the basket that's pretty impressive. And I don't think anyone really saw that coming.
And we saw all of that in that game against the Celtics. His timing of his cuts, man-- like, it's really, really cool because, when the Raptors were healthy, he kind of took on this role as kind of the fifth option, right? He was, like, the release valve. When things weren't going well, broken possession he was a person who was finding space on the court. And he would make something happen.
And that's-- like, that presence on the court-- you don't know-- you don't really see that from rookies, right? That's something you learn over time. But his IQ is already there. Very, very impressive stuff from him.
Pivoting right to the, Oh, Shit, Scottie Barnes Moments, did anything else come to mind for you?
AARON ROSE: Well, I just think of that game against the Nets. I think they might have lost that game. But he stripped KD. He grabbed that ball with his grown-man hands and went end to end right for the dunk. I think he might have done that classic Scottie Barnes look-back--
AMIT MANN: Of course he did.
AARON ROSE: --as he was going end to end for that dunk. And then after the game, you could hear how genuine KD was. It wasn't like LeBron James, who was like, yeah, I've known this guy was going to be good for years. This was KD being like, sheesh, he's only-- what is it? 20 years old. He realized that this guy is, like, the next generation.
When you hear that, from a player of KD's caliber-- saying this guy-- with the emphasis he put on how good that player is-- I think that's something that says, OK, I know he's special. But when KD's saying it, his voice carries a little bit more weight than mine. And I think that was another moment where I said, wow, this kid's going to be one of the faces of the NBA down the road.
- Edwards there defensively. Stepback. Oh, ridiculous!
AMIT MANN: Sure, man, against the Nets, he averaged 19 points, 11 rebounds. Four assists, 66% from the field, 50% from 3. Granted, as the season went on-- a lot of small fries on the Brooklyn Nets. So they were kind of-- yeah, they were accessible to the Raptors identity of having all these large players and large wings.
But at the same time, in that game that you're talking about, I was in awe. I was, like, legit-- it's like, wow, this is a player who is doing this against Kevin Durant. And the shots that he was hitting-- you could tell that it wasn't luck. This was him like getting into the rhythm of his offense, finding his spots, doing things that he knows he can do on the basketball court.
And KD-- as you said, he was shocked at what this rookie was doing at 20 years old, maybe 19 at the time, whatever it was. At that moment, Scottie showed us that he loves the spotlight. That's the thing that really struck out to me.
And you mentioned that LeBron James game. Even during the playoffs, too, he isn't shy from the moment. He's willing to take that shot late in the game with all the pressure on him. And that's a quality that you cannot teach.
OG Anunoby has it, too. Fred VanVleet has it. Like, they're willing to rise to the occasion, and they want that pressure. They want the smoke. That is a really cool quality to have.
- Siakam trying to get by Rivers. Can't. Barnes for three. Got it.
AMIT MANN: So that game against the Denver Nuggets late in the year, on that five game road trip, where he had 25 points, eight rebounds, 10 assists. I look at this as like his Magic Johnson game because it was an MVP level of performance.
Like, Fred wasn't there. OG wasn't there. Gary was there. Pascal also had a good game.
But you kind of saw how good he's going to be and, like, the progression that he's made as a player. It was the middle of the trip, very tough time. Like, that was kind of the area where the Raptors were really able to solidify that they're going to be in that top six area because they went on a five-game win streak.
And he was directing the offense. He was rebounding the ball. He was attacking smaller players. He was attacking Jokic. He was stealing the ball-- off-ball, on-ball, whatever. He was doing it all.
And at that moment, man, like, you're thinking, like, this guy is going to be an MVP candidate at some point in his career because of how forceful he was imposing his will on that game. And even Pascal-- you kind of really saw that two-man game that developed over that road trip. And I'm excited to see what that lends towards the season next season as well.
AARON ROSE: Yeah, and I think the only other one that comes to mind-- I guess there are a bunch that come to mind. But game one of the playoffs-- what was he, like, three assists shy or something of the first playoff triple double for the Raptors in franchise history?
And he came out-- you mentioned not being afraid of the spotlight. He certainly was not afraid of that spotlight. He came out in game 1 and showed that he's already a guy who can succeed in those moments. So that's another one that comes to mind for me.
AMIT MANN: Man, if he didn't get injured, what could have been? What could have been? [SIGHS]
Anyways, Scottie Barnes-- Rookie of the Year-- very deserving. Sophomore of the Year-- that should be an award, Sophomore of the Year. I really think that should be something, no? Right?
AARON ROSE: Sure, I guess people had that problem with Ja Morant this year, right? When he was, like, the most improved player or whatever. So you could have another award. Nick Nurse made fun of me because I asked too many award questions, so maybe he doesn't want more awards this season. But yeah, something like that would certainly make sense.
AMIT MANN: Yeah, the facilitator of Scottie Barnes, man. Those one-hand pass he's doing now, too, are really, really fun. I like seeing those. It's like, again, that Magic Johnson quality of just being able to find ways to get the ball to a teammate right on the tape, in their shooting pocket. It's special, special stuff.