On Monday, Scottie Barnes came off the bench for the first time during the regular season in the Toronto Raptors’ 100-88 home win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. For the 2021-22 Rookie of the Year, the feeling was different.
“It was a little different, for sure. It was all right,” Barnes said after the win on how it felt to come off the bench. “I don’t know. It was all right I guess.”
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Scottie Barnes on coming off the bench vs. Cavs
— Yahoo Sports Canada (@YahooCASports) November 29, 2022
The second-year Raptors star noticed some differences. “I don’t know,” continued Barnes. “I’m used to being out there to start off the game. But I guess it was just a little adjustment. I guess. I don’t know. It was just different I guess.”
Of course, the move came as no surprise to Barnes. “No. I knew it was happening,” responded the Florida State product. “It was just different.”
In 27 minutes played, Barnes finished his Monday night performance off the bench with 11 points, four rebounds, five assists, one steal, and three blocks. He finished 5-of-12 (41.7%) shooting from the floor.
Raptors forward Scottie Barnes says “it was a little different” to come off the bench for the first time during the regular season
When asked if he was OK with a different starting lineup, Barnes replied, “Yeah, it’s whatever the scheme was, the game plan. It was fun.” At least Barnes seemed cool about it.
Through 17 appearances this season, the Raptors wing is averaging 14.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 5.2 assists per game. He’s shooting 43.7% from the field and 34.8% behind the arc.
Barnes’ player efficiency rating (15.5) and true shooting percentage (50.4%) statistics are lower than his rookie-season numbers. However, the Raptors are utilizing Barnes in 21% of their plays with the forward on the court, which is a career-high usage percentage.
Nick Nurse says that Gary Trent Jr. (and Scottie Barnes) found out they’d be coming off the bench at #Raptors shootaround when going through their matchups.
“I’m just trying to get the team to play as best as possible…. didn’t seem to bother (Gary) one bit.” pic.twitter.com/U1bGnfcgRt
— Adam Laskaris (@adam_la2karis) November 29, 2022
Furthermore, Toronto coach Nick Nurse is not the first to alter his starting five this season. Los Angeles Clippers coach Tyronn Lue decided to bring former Raptors star Kawhi Leonard off the bench.
And Russell Westbrook of the Los Angeles Lakers now leads his team’s second unit. Lakers coach Darvin Ham thought it was a necessary change. Although inconsistent, Westbrook is thriving in the sixth man role at this point of his 15-year playing career.
Through 18 appearances, Westbrook is averaging 15.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, 7.3 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. Plus, he’s shooting 40.6% from the field and 31.6% from three-point range. The forward has also recorded six double-doubles.
After one game, it’s difficult to say whether or not this is the right decision by Nurse. On Nov. 19, in the Raptors’ 124-122 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, Scottie Barnes recorded a season-high 28 points in 46 minutes.
Though, the wing has logged just two 20-point games this season. This time last season as a starter, Barnes recorded 20-plus points in four contests.
During the first round of the 2022 NBA Playoffs, Barnes came off the bench in Game 4 of the Raptors’ 110-102 home win over the Philadelphia 76ers. He finished that game with six points, 11 rebounds, and two assists in 26 minutes.
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