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Raptors coach Nick Nurse backs Scottie Barnes amid tough stretch


Toronto Raptors rookie Scottie Barnes came into the league with such a shocking degree of bombast that it looked like he would never slow down. However, as Nick Nurse and the Raptors have hit the skids amid a rough losing streak, Barnes’ production hasn’t necessarily been as impressive as it was in his first handful of games.

Barnes has topped 11 points just once in his last five games, and he hasn’t made more than 50% of his shots in any of those games. We’re lifetime members of the Scottie Barnes fan club here. but it’s fair to acknowledge that he’s hit a very brief rough patch lately.

The last two games against a lowly Kings team and a dominant Golden State Warriors have been particularly uneven. Barnes totaled just two points against Sacramento. While he did record 13 rebounds and five assists in the loss to Golden State, Barnes tallied just 10 points on 3-11 scoring. Most of those points came with the Warriors ahead comfortably late.

Even with Barnes’ offense starting to falter just a bit, Nurse is hyping up the Raptors sensation as best he can. Nurse claimed that Barnes “hung in there” after a slow start and gave him credit for being aggressive with the ball. Nurse doesn’t seem to think his play over the last few games is a big concern.

Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse is sticking by Scottie Barnes.

The return of Pascal Siakam has coincided with Barnes shooting the ball less, as No. 43 needs the ball in his hands to be as effective as possible. Barnes and Siakam have had some nice moments together, but the Raptors have embarked on this West Coast trip without some key contributors in OG Anunoby and Yuta Watanabe. 

When Barnes came out of Florida State, the fear was that he would be borderline unplayable on offense. While Barnes is still working on his ability to shoot, he looks confident as a finisher even during bad games. That’s exactly what Nurse wants to see from him.

It’s hard to remember that Barnes is a 20-year-old rookie. These nights are going to happen, especially on the road against one of the best teams in the league. Nurse doesn’t seem overly concerned about his performances, as someone with his talent should be able to overcome such a rough patch.

At the very least, Toronto should remain encouraged that he is still making plays on the defensive end, contributing as a rebounder, and showing off his passing skills. The ability to impact the game without scoring a ton of points is one of the main reasons Barnes was drafted so high.





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