Barnes posted nine points (4-9 FG, 0-1 3Pt, 1-1 FT), seven assists, two rebounds and one block with no turnovers in 25 minutes during Tuesday's 113-108 preseason win over the Wizards. Barnes continued to show off his impressive passing ability from the forward spot. In five preseason games, Barnes averaged 5.6 assists. He also averaged 9.8 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.4 combined steals-plus-blocks in 26.4 minutes. It remains to be seen how he'll mesh when Pascal Siakam (shoulder) returns, but Barnes is looking like a promising selection thus far. The only real downside is that the rookie shot 0-for-8 from distance during the preseason.
Barnes finished Monday's preseason win over the 76ers with 13 points (6-10 FG, 0-1 3Pt, 1-2 FT), nine rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks. Playing without Khem Birch (COVID-19 protocols), Pascal Siakam (shoulder), Chris Boucher (finger) and Gary Trent (quad), the Raptors unleashed Barnes in the starting lineup in his first taste of NBA action. The No. 4 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft finished as a game-high plus-19 in 25 minutes and contributed an impressive all-around effort that included a combined four blocks and steals. Just how large of a role Barnes will have during the regular season remains to be seen, but coach Nick Nurse has only had positive things to say about the rookie, who has the size and versatility to effectively play multiple positions.
Barnes will draw the start at small forward during the Raptors' first preseason contest Monday, Blake Murphy of The Athletic reports. Barnes has a unique skill set, so it'll be interesting to see how the Raptors utilize their No. 4 overall pick. The Florida State product will act as a slashing wing with Fred VanVleet and Goran Dragic in the starting lineup during the first preseason contest, but he could also see some reps as the primary ball handler with the second unit.
Coach Nick Nurse implied Monday that Barnes will hold a significant role with the Raptors as a rookie, Eric Smith of Sportsnet 590 The Fan reports. "His role is going to be huge," Nurse said. "I'm sitting here on day one looking to give him as many minutes and reps as he can handle." Nurse's words are a ringing endorsement of the No. 4 overall pick out of Florida State, who has the body and skill set to play -- and more importantly, defend -- multiple positions at the NBA level. It's unclear if Nurse will find a way to insert Barnes into the starting lineup, but at the very least it sounds like the rookie will play a major role off the bench for a Raptors team looking to re-assert itself as a perennial playoff threat in the East. Barnes figures to see time at both forward spots, and he could even work as a ball handler after functioning as Florida State's de facto point guard for much of last season.
Barnes signed a rookie-scale contract with the Raptors on Sunday, Blake Murphy of The Athletic reports. The No. 4 overall pick put pen to paper on a deal just before he's set to make his debut in the Las Vegas Summer League on Sunday versus the Knicks. The 20-year-old rookie is a high-level defender with some playmaking skills, but his poor shooting will likely prevent him from emerging as a useful scorer at the NBA level.
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