Scottie Barnes could become an NBA All-Star by making these strides

Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)
Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors have flown under the radar this offseason, but that’s because they have a franchise cornerstone in Scottie Barnes to build around.

When you look around the NBA, and even the Eastern Conference, it is easy to see why. Players like Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant have dominated the news cycle while rival teams in the East like the Atlanta Hawks and Cleveland Cavaliers have made trades to push themselves closer to contention.

Toronto has Barnes, which no other franchise can boast about. Entering his second season, Barnes deservedly took home Rookie of the Year honors last year and made many Orlando Magic fans wish they’d selected him over Jalen Suggs.

We know Barnes is going to be really good, but what does his path to being an All-Star look like? Better still, can Barnes reach that level this coming year?

What will it take for Scottie Barnes star to reach All-Star status?

Right away, Barnes has a lot going for him. He is the face of the Raptors franchise, and although some casual fans may not be aware of who he is yet, that percentage is dropping all of the time. He is also a darling of the more hardcore fans because of his immediate two-way output and clear willingness to do whatever the Raptors needed him to right from his first game.

Barnes averaged 15.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists last year. Super numbers for a youngster, and Basketball Reference projects those stats to only get better this coming season. Like, close to All-Star level numbers. Defensively he checks out as well and is already an above-average player in that area.

In fact, he was so good last season that of rookies who played over 30 games, he had the third-best defensive rating (108.4). Ziaire Williams of the Memphis Grizzlies was marginally better (108), while future superstar Evan Mobley (106.8) led the pack. To be even close to somebody like Mobley shows that Barnes is trending in the right direction.

Barnes is well on his way to being a two-way menace, although the 3-point shooting needs some work. Shooting 30.1 percent from deep on roughly 2.5 attempts per night was not good, and given that the Raptors ranked a lowly 20th in this category as a team (34.9 percent), it will be on Barnes to make more of those shots.

You can be sure he’s going to see more of the ball, which should mean that his ability to find others and keep the ball moving to the open man should improve as well. This, in turn, could lead to easier looks as he receives the ball back.

Learning from Raptors teammates can elevate Scottie Barnes.

Playing for a good (but not great) team is another key component to Barnes making an All-Star team sooner rather than later. Former All-Stars Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam are two excellent teammates to have alongside him. In fact, Barnes assisted Siakam the most times last year (48) in chances that led to made baskets.

Barnes can benefit a lot from having Siakam impacting the game on both ends, but has a higher ceiling that he can reach once he has done this. Forward OG Anunoby is another teammate who Barnes can learn from, although at this stage, it is more likely Barnes ends up taking a lot of his minutes as time goes on.

All of this is important because the Raptors are in a prime position to overachieve in the eyes of the media and fans alike this coming season. If a team like the Nets, Milwaukee Bucks, or Boston Celtics are doing well, it is seen as a given. But the Raptors are clearly a level, or maybe even two, below that.

Yet still, the team has enough quality to be even a third seed by the time All-Star voting concludes. If they find themselves in that position, you can be sure Barnes will be a big reason why. So circumstance is also on the side of Barnes. The Raptors are young, fun and have a lot of upside. All superficial, but important, parts of the All-Star voting process.

Really then there is no reason Scottie Barnes can’t be an All-Star this coming season. There will be stiff competition in the East with the introduction of Donovan Mitchell and Dejounte Murray, among others, but Barnes has started his career so brightly.

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The numbers look good, the situation is ideal, and he is only going to get better. There is multiple-time All-Star potential here, at the very minimum.