What is happening with Scottie Barnes?

We’re just half way into the 2022-2023 NBA regular season and Scottie Barnes still has not been able to get into a rhythm, and give the Toronto Raptors that performance/impact he did in his rookie season. Scottie’s dissimilar performance compared to his rookie season has certainly been concerning and other teams around the league are starting to see it.

There is definitely a lot to be concerned about with Scottie and how opposing teams defenses are not even worried to leave him open from almost any area on the court. To give a better presentation, I have collected data and watched film and compared Scottie’s sophomore season stats to his freshman season stats. Let’s just dive right in and analyze the drawbacks.

Displaying The Predicaments

To start out, we can simply compare Scottie’s last year stats and this years stats. Scottie’s minutes per game has dropped as well as his points per game, FG%, 3P%, rebounds per game, and turning the ball over more times a game. Although the number drops are not by a large margin, it is still concerning after the reigning rookie of the year has only gotten worse. Scottie is only 21 years, so these problems can be considered as growing pains, but it is more than just the basic stats.

Rival teams around the league are starting to notice Scottie’s issues and are taking action. Scottie Barnes on ball and off ball gravity when comparing this season to last season has dropped drastically. Opponents of the Toronto Raptors are eagerly leaving Scottie wide open in nearly every area on the court. You could only imagine how Scottie Barnes’s confidence is affected by the defensive tactics some teams around the league use on him. For a better display, lets take a look at some recent possessions where Scottie Barnes is thoughtlessly being left wide open.

This is not the only predicament that is being shown in Scottie Barnes’s performances. We have seen a lot of drops in Scottie’s numbers from last season to this season, but the crucial drops is his efficiency and finishing. I gathered and compared a full data view showing percentiles of specific categories of Scottie Barnes performance last season and this season.

The data is from BBall Index. Lets take a look at Scottie Barnes’s efficiency and finishing percentiles of this year and compare them to last year.

(The left side of the data is from Scottie last season, while the right side of the data is Scottie this season. Scottie Barnes’s percentiles are being compared to every NBA players percentiles in efficiency and finishing.)

This data view may look confusing and intense to some, so if that is the case, let me break down what this data means. A percentile is a percentage of a sample the player is at something. For example, Scottie Barnes is in the 35th percentile in 3 point shooting percentage. That means, 65% of the players in the NBA have a better 3 point shooting percentage.

Now lets point out the immense drops from last season to this season. The comparison that strikes me the most is his overall shot making. In Scottie’s rookie season, he was in the 86th percentile in overall shot making. As of halfway into his sophomore season, he is in the 21st percentile. That has to be extremely concerning for the Toronto Raptors front office and coaching staff. Scottie Barnes finishing percentiles are extremely questionable as well. His rim shot making in his rookie season was in the 94th percentile, while his rim shot making this season is in the 64th percentile. Scottie’s percentile in finishing talent last season was in the 92nd percentile, while his finishing talent this season is in the 63rd percentile. This data shows a lot of concerns in Scottie’s performance this season, and it certainly is more than a minor issue.

The Toronto Raptors Thoughts On Scottie’s Struggles

Scottie Barnes’s fellow teammates and coaching staff has taken Scottie’s side on his struggles and have made it clear to the media that there should be no worries about Scottie’s slump. “He’s going to have a long career, so this is good for him to struggle a little bit,” VanVleet told ESPN. “We would wish that there wasn’t so much weight on every performance for him, but we do need him to play good in order for us to have success, which is how a team is built. That’s unfortunate in terms of his development, but it’s good for him. … It’s going to make him better, and it’s good for him to go through these struggles.”

Nick Nurse has also spoken to the media about Scottie Barnes’s offensive struggles. Here is Nick Nurse’s thoughts on Scottie Barnes’s offensive struggles/performance.

Nick Nurse has also spoken to the media about Scottie Barnes’s slow starts to games and how that is an issue.

What can we conclude with this information?

The slump that Scottie is currently facing does not concern me. The typical “sophomore slump” is extremely common in the NBA. It is completely normal for a player in the NBA to get a little bit ahead/putting higher expectations on themselves, especially a player like Scottie Barnes who just last year won the 2021-2022 Rookie Of The Year award, while also being a huge help to the Toronto Raptors placing in the 5th seed in the east, which made them make the playoffs to face a talented Philadelphia 76ers team consisting of Joel Embiid and James Harden and helped Toronto take them to 6 games, despite the loss. The drops in his stats are obviously concerning, but you see it from sophomores in the NBA all the time.

Even before Scottie Barnes got drafted, front offices as well as fans saw the high amount of talent Scottie Barnes shows and how high his potential is as an NBA player. Scottie Barnes can easily adapt to the unusual defensive tactic that leaves Scottie wide open in nearly every area on the court, and he will make other coaching staffs around the league question the tactic of leaving him wide open, which will then boost his confidence on the court.

What is my conclusion? Don’t let this slump let you forget the amount of talent Scottie Barnes holds, and also the fact that sophomore slumps in the NBA are completely normal. Nick Nurse is a well known coach around the league, because he is so good at developing players, and has such a creative mind that lets him come up with plans and styles that help his roster impact the team as well as possible. He will figure out how to overcome this slump and I have no doubt in that.

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