Scottie Barnes is like Draymond Green and “could be a lot better than me,” Green says

Scottie Barnes is like Draymond Green and “could be a lot better than me,” Green says

SAN FRANCISCO — Like all good playmakers N.B.A, Scottie Barnes he is getting good at recognizing the traps.

“I wouldn’t say I wonder that,” Barnes said Friday morning when asked if he’s ever thought about what it would be like to play with shooters like Stephen Curry i Klay Thompson. “I don’t know how to answer that. Are you trying to set me up?”

“Yes,” Malachi Flynn he said nearby, affirming Barnes’ belief.

Barnes was right: there was no good way to answer this question. Who would ask such a silly question? (I, and it was, uhhh, poorly worded. I didn’t mean to make Barnes squirm.) Instead, it was an attempt to recognize the different contexts in which Barnes, a young playmaking forward, and Draymond Green, a veteran playmaker, exist. They are not the same because, in addition to being two different humans, the warriors they have two of the greatest shooters of all time and a host of other threats that make Green’s lack of scoring easy to accept, and the raptors … don’t have all that. They don’t need Barnes to score 20 points per game, but if he averaged eight, like Green, it would be very problematic. As it happens, Green had just five points in the Warriors’ 129-117 win over the Raptors on Friday, while Barnes had 24.

However, it’s the other things that make both players stand out. If you look at the way Barnes and Green set up their teammates — throwing passes to cutters, waiting for their better-shooting teammates to slide behind a screen, dribbling in a turnover situation — the commonalities are starting to appear. There are only three forwards or centers averaging less than 20 points per game but more than 4.5 assists: Domantas Sabonis (18.4, 7.3), Barnes (15.4, 4.9) and Green (8.0, 6.8).

“Of course you can see some similarities in our games — how he plays defense, bringing that intensity,” said Barnes, who added six rebounds, five assists and two blocks. “His vision on the ground I could see. I would say you could see some similarities, but we’re not the same.”

“He could be a lot better than me,” Green said The Athletic after the match “I saw a tweet the other day that said, ‘Scottie Barnes’ floor is Draymond Green.’ And that’s a really good floor. And I believe that. He’s such a special talent.”

Unlike his dynastic teammate Curry, Green hasn’t reshaped the league in his image. There aren’t kids in gyms around the world learning to read split-screen actions, nor are there many learning to dissect every play there is so they can call them on defense.

There are even fewer people who can do all that but don’t seem particularly willing to shoot. This is Green. They got the benefit of playing with two transcendent shooters, of course, but they also had the benefit of having someone who understands what they’re trying to do.

“Draymond is so unique that there aren’t many players to compare him to, but Barnes is good just with versatility and the way he plays,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said. “The first thing you notice about Barnes is that he’s elite defensively. The next thing you know, he’s kind of a point forward. I think that’s a very apt comparison.”

“I love his game because it’s not about sheer skill or sheer will,” Green said. “It’s a mixture of all that. It’s a mixture of skill. It’s a mixture of will. It’s a mixture of intelligence. It’s a mixture of length and athleticism.”

There’s also the reluctance to shoot, which the Raptors have tried to train him to do since he arrived in Toronto. He doesn’t have the luxury of handing it to the best shooters in the world. As he moved down the court to make an uncontested layup to start the game, he slowed to a crawl, looking like he wanted to give it to OG Anunoby for a basket Anunoby was behind, and Barnes reluctantly sank it. Barnes made six shots in the first quarter, while Green shot four times for the game. Barnes had 15 shots for the night, a number Green has accomplished just once all season.

Regardless, Barnes can throw all the passes he needs to. His retention of the ball long enough to absorb enough defenders, allowing it Beautiful Achiuwa sneaking up behind to take a hit was Draymondesque. He found the smaller seams for a bounce pass to Pascal Siakam in the fourth. His Step Back 3 on Green from the beginning, necessary because the shot clock was about to expire, it was beautiful but spiritually wrong.

Barnes’ defense isn’t nearly as impactful as Green’s, but as a second-year player, it would be strange if it was. He has too many lapses on the perimeter, but his length currently makes up for a lot of that. He had a pair of steals early and erased two points for Curry in the third. Seeing how well he reads the game offensively, that should translate more defensively over time.

Green has been figuring out how to make it work in the Warriors ecosystem for more than a decade. Barnes is only in his second year and the fit has been awkward, even when it has worked. The offense is too often isolation-dependent and stagnant, as it was in San Francisco in the second half. The Warriors assisted on 80 percent of their buckets, and the Raptors hit 52. That’s all you need to know about the difference between these teams. A change is coming to the Raptors ecosystem, probably sooner rather than later.

Now, the Raptors won’t become two-generation shooters, turning Barnes into Draymond 2.0. You wouldn’t want to limit it like that anyway. Still, it will be fascinating to see how the Raptors tweak their team, because that will determine what skills Barnes will need to emphasize.

After the game, Green and Barnes shared a long hug.

“I told him, ‘I say this every time I see you, but I’m really impressed with your game,”’ Green said. “‘I’m a big fan of yours. I love watching you play. I love your growth. And I’ll probably say it again the next time I see you’”.


• Anunoby sprained his left wrist in the second quarter and landed hard after trying to dunk Golden State. JaMychal Green. Anunoby was able to make the resulting pair of free throws, hitting one, but the Raptors were fouled to take him out of the game. X-rays came back negative, but the Raptors said they planned to do more testing and evaluation Saturday in Portland, where the Raptors will play the Trail Blazers. Precious Achiuwa started the second half in his place and recorded his 10th game in double figures in his last 11 appearances.

• Siakam had a rough night offensively, shooting 8-for-26, as can happen when Green spends a lot of time guarding you. More about: He got lost on a few screens defensively and seemed to stop moving.

Fred VanVleet was fantastic, finishing with 28 points and 10 assists. He made big plays, offsetting Siakam’s struggles, helping the Raptors hang in there in the second half when, on balance, they probably deserved to be shut out.

VanVleet passed Jonas Valančiūnas for eighth all-time Raptors scoring in the first quarter. He’s still more than 900 points behind Morris Peterson for seventh, in case you were wondering.

• Nurse said before the game that the Raptors hope to have Dalano Banton available Monday in Phoenix. He was with Raptors 905 for a period and has been dealing with a hip pointer ever since. He has not played for the Raptors since December 18.

Joe Wieskamp was at practice Thursday, the final day of his second 10-day contract. The Raptors would have had to sign Wieskamp for the rest of the season to keep him, and they didn’t, which makes sense given that an open roster spot could come in handy before the trade deadline.

• The big screen at Chase Center must take up a larger percentage of the arena than its counterpart at AT&T Stadium in Dallas. It’s mammoth.

(Photo of Draymond Green deflecting a Scottie Barnes shot during Friday’s game: D. Ross Cameron/USA Today)

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