TORONTO — Scotty Barnes hasn’t played an actual NBA game yet, but the greasy rookie is fast becoming one of the Raptors’ most popular.
He’s a spirited, clapping human energy drinker, and his new teammates smiled during Monday’s media day as they told stories of their time in Toronto.
If it’s rare for a 20-year-old rookie to immediately move into a vocal role on a new team, Barnes said he didn’t think twice.
“At this stage, you can’t be shy. You can’t try to look too good,” Barnes said Tuesday after his first training camp practice at the OVO Athletic Center. “It’s just the dirty things you have to do on the floor.” It is needed, this is what needs to happen. It’s really not that hard. I am not a shy man. I’m going to be who I am no matter where I am.”
The Raptors picked the Florida State forward, known for his strong defense, as the No. 4 pick in the NBA Draft. Twice the Raptors picked a fourth – Chris Bosch in 2003, and Anton Jamieson in 1998, whom they traded for Vince Carter.
There will be high expectations from the youngster this season, but so far he has earned nothing but praise, including from head coach Nick Nurse, who said Barnes will play a “big role” this season.
“I think he’s going to get as many reps as possible, and that starts next Monday night (when Toronto hosts Philadelphia in the pre-season opener),” said Nurse.
“He’s a clapper, you know, like, ‘Let’s go, let’s go, let’s play D.’ He just loves to talk, he likes to smile and he enjoys, he loves sports, and he plays like that.”
At six foot nine, and boasting a seven-foot-two wingspan and giant Kawhi Leonard-sized hands, Barnes has long been known for his versatility. He has the ability to play all five positions, and with his speed and ballhandling, he has been compared to a point guard in a forward body.
If he left one box unchecked, it was his shooting. He shot just 27.5 percent from three-point range in college, and his robotic shooting style drew some criticism.
No wonder, he had a good time in the off-season, working on his shot.
“Every day, just getting more and more reps, it’s a process of getting more reps every day, just continuous shooting,” he said.
What tricks has he done?
“Just release on my shot at my fingertips. Shooting with my two fingers, and just a little push towards me. It has been (feeling more natural). We have been working a lot for the last two months. I feel like I’m getting better at it every day.”
Barnes, who tasted the NBA during the summer league, said the biggest adjustment from college is the pace of the game.
“It’s going on constantly, the floor is long, big so you have to be in really good shape,” he said. “People are bigger, stronger and you can really feel it at this stage. So it’s really about it, just being in position, getting your air right, being able to run up and down the floor where it’s going to take a high level of conditioning. “
It looks like hard work won’t be a problem for Barnes.
“Works hard, you’ll see him first in the gym, last to go out,” said 13-year-old NBA legend Goran Dragic, who arrived in Toronto as part of a sign-and-trade deal with Miami. For Kyle Lowry. “He has that personality that’s unique, and I really like him. He has a bright future. I can already see it. It’s funny, he’s really funny.”
Pascal Siakam recently spoke about passing Barnes in the hallway after a team physical. Barnes delivers a bouncing chest-bump to Siakam, as if he had just scored a game-winner.
“He’s just an exciting kid, he’s exciting to be around, and he just has a great presence and it’s actually really fun to watch,” Siakam said. “I think he can beat me in energy just because he’s always happy, always excited.”
It’s partly his humor and all-around good nature – evident in his social media presence – that have made him a darling of Toronto fans.
On the heels of the draft, he featured on The Players Tribune as “What’s Good, Toronto?” Wrote a letter with the title In which he talks about his excitement about playing for Toronto and the love he has received from Raptors fans.
Fans followed him on Instagram Live as he explored his new city in Toronto, and earned raucous applause when he threw the first pitch at a Toronto Blue Jays game – further adding to the hype around the youngster. Gave.
Fans will get their first glimpse of their on-court enthusiasm against Philadelphia on Monday.
“I think he wants to be part of the team, it’s like ‘Let’s do this all together,’” said the nurse. “I love that she’s outspoken and demonstrative in it, and who doesn’t love that?”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on 28 September 2021.