After months of speculation, Scottie Barnes lived up to his monster defensive expectations in the first round of the NBA playoffs. The Warriors helped their postseason run with a win over Portland and are now looking ahead at clinching home court advantage before Saturday’s Game 3.
Scottie Barnes was expected to be a defensive monster for the Golden State Warriors. But he has lived up to the expectations and become one of the best defenders in basketball.
Scottie Barnes of the Toronto Raptors was looking like a typical rookie on defense just a few games ago.
That is to say, they aren’t extremely tenacious. He put in a lot of effort, but he was being blown by on the perimeter by shifty guards and hammered in the paint by bigger bigs. He was often a step behind schedule, his arms a bit too far outward.
Even for highly touted defensive talents like Barnes, this isn’t uncommon for an NBA rookie. At the very least, it takes some time to acclimatize to playing the game at a considerably quicker pace, against smarter teams and players who are stronger and faster than in any other league in the world.
While Barnes is still in the middle of that stage, he has made significant progress.
He looked every bit the suffocating defensive monster he was hyped as against the Sacramento Kings on Monday night. On practically every play for the Raptors, he was in the correct location, keeping vertical when opponents came up against him and flying about like a rover off-ball, shooting gaps and sizing up layup attempts before swatting them away.
Head coach Nick Nurse told reporters after the game, “I think it’s very fantastic to see Scottie pull together a whole lot of games like this simply generally.” “There’s a lot of energy, a lot of offense, a lot of defense, a lot of passing, a lot of blocked shots.” It’s encouraging to watch him do so well in all aspects of the game and continue to develop.”
In this victory against the Kings, Scottie Barnes had 5 blocks. twitter.com/mFgSnHX4QP
December 14, 2021 — William Lou (@william lou)
He did indeed complete the game with a career-high five blocks. Barnes looked carnivorous on defense, stalking around the floor with his eyes wide, zeroed in on the prize, maybe more than in any other game in his early stint with the Raptors. Everything that happened between the court’s four lines happened in his waters, and he had no issue reminding them of that.
“With [Barnes’] flexibility and when we go a little bit longer out there—you know, we’re losing three really lengthy guys who can all help us guard the rim,” Nurse said. “Out there near the rim, we should be able to be stingy.” He had them—they were massive chunks. Three of the four were incredible last-second bucket-saving blocks. He’s 6’10” and has a lot of length, so it’s nice to see him put it to good use.”
It’s no secret that the finest version of Scottie Barnes on defense will be unleashed by following the Pascal Siakam mold—allowing him to run about as a free safety off the ball, taking use of his quick recovery ability and superb helper instincts. Monday’s game is proof of that theory, as well as a reminder of the need of giving players developmental repetitions in areas where they are most likely to thrive.
“That’s basically of what we’re hoping,” the Raptors coach said, “that Scottie [Barnes], Pascal [Siakam], and OG [Anunoby] can all be very similar type guys.” “Play both ends of the field, guard, switch, and collaborate.” Also, everyone should be a good scorer.”
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The “can scottie barnes play center” is a question that has been asked for a long time. Scottie Barnes has lived up to the expectations of being a defensive monster, and will continue to be so in the future.
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