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Barnes' slow start to the offseason is because of an ankle injury | Barnes and Trent are besties

Raptors Reveal Scottie Barnes Had Offseason Ankle Injury – Sports Illustrated

Through four games this preseason, Barnes is averaging just 6.3 points per game while shooting 36.4% from the field with more turnovers than assists. He’s also yet to make a single three-pointer and the Raptors have been outscored by 30 points when he’s been on the court.

Concerning?

“Nope,” Nurse said. “I’m just trying to get him to bring that energy and competitive enthusiasm that he has because if he does, the skills and the shooting and all that stuff and the moves and learning when to play power ball and when to make skill moves and all that stuff will just get better. He has worked on a lot of stuff, he is going to play more game reps, all those kind of things.”

Setbacks prior to the season have a funny way of lingering for a little while. Last season, for example, Chris Boucher’s broken thumb kept him out of sync until Christmas. Khem Birch too had to take it slow as he worked his way back from a COVID-19 diagnosies last preseason.

For Barnes, it may take some time to get back to where the Raptors need him to be for this season. Even in a developmental program as renown as Toronto’s, nobody’s developmental trajectory is ever linear. This injury is just the first hiccup for Barnes’ road ahead. The question is how will he bounce back.

Raptors’ Barnes hasn’t quite looked like himself but there is a reason | Toronto Sun

But Nurse was adamant that this was not an issue that had him terribly worried.

“They held him out for all that and now I think he’s just behind a little bit, conditioning-wise, feel-wise, all that kind of stuff so yeah, that’s it,” Nurse said. “We just need to keep plugging away and get him feeling so he can feel like he can be out there playing really hard. I always say that is his key.

“Is his energy and enthusiasm going to remain at the same level it was a year ago as the new kid in the candy store? If it does, then he doesn’t have much to worry about.”

Barnes has taken part in all four-pre-season games to date, averaging just over 22 minutes, 6.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists.

Those are not Barnes-like numbers.

And if they turn around once the regular season starts and begin looking like Barnes-type numbers again, nobody is going to care.

But at least we now know why Barnes has seemed rather quiet to this point.

Raptors keep building back toward championship contention – The Washington Post

“We won a championship and now we’ve kind of stepped back, got hit and fell down a little bit,” Ujiri said. “We’re starting to come up again and we want to go all the way again, right back to where we were.

“Are we good enough to win a championship? I don’t know that we’re there yet. Are we good enough to grow and make a jump? I think so.”

Raptors forward Pascal Siakam was the league’s most improved player the year Toronto won the title. Last year he returned from offseason shoulder surgery to average 22.8 points and a career-best 8.5 rebounds.

An All-NBA player twice in the past three years, Siakam has set lofty personal goals for the coming season.

“I just feel like it’s time to take another step,” Siakam said. “I’ve been All-NBA, I’ve been an All-Star. I want to be a top-five player in the league, I want to be one of the best.”

With reigning Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes starting alongside him, plus veterans such as point guard Fred VanVleet and defensive specialist O.G. Anunoby, Siakam said he feels good about the direction the Raptors are headed.

“I think we have all the pieces,” he said. “We have a bright future as a team.”

LIGHTER LOAD

One of coach Nick Nurse’s goals this season will be to ease the burden on his starting five. Both VanVleet and Siakam averaged 37.9 minutes per game last season, causing VanVleet to wear down by the time the playoffs arrived.

“He has played great and we needed him out there,” Nurse said. “We’ve got more depth. I think we learned in the playoffs we can move pieces a lot better and do some things.”

RUNNING WITH RICO

A new addition to Nurse’s staff is Rico Hines, a former Sacramento assistant who is well-known for his offseason scrimmages in Los Angeles. Toronto’s new player development coach, Hines also has a longstanding relationship with Siakam, working with him since 2016.

“He’s as good as there is in the business of player development,“ Nurse said. “That’s a big statement. Guys trust him.”

Raptors get a refresher on the NBA rules, old and new | The Star

The big one this year is the league disallowing “take” fouls, where a defender makes no play on the ball at all to either thwart fast breaks or kill the clock late in close games. The fouled team will get a free throw and the ball, bringing the NBA more in line with the FIBA game.

“It’s fairly simple, right?” coach Nick Nurse said. “But getting used to doing it, like anything (is something else). If you’re coming up the floor and I just come out and put two hands on you … as soon as you put two hands on you, like, it’s a foul. You’re making no attempt at the ball.”

McCutchen’s visit gave the players a chance to make a personal connection with him and, by extension, with the league’s staff.

The interaction between refs and players is a huge part of the game. Players like to know which officials will engage in conversations and explain calls and who will take not guff.

“It’s educational,” Achiuwa said. “You learn the rules and you know what you’re talking about when you’re talking to the refs.

Raptors forward Precious Achiuwa, defending against the Celtics’ Grant Williams earlier this month, received a private tutorial from Monty McCutchen, the NBA’s senior vice-president of referee development and training, on Tuesday.

“If something happens, you’re not just talking from emotion, you actually know what it should be. So it’s good to talk to someone like (McCutchen, who has) done it for so long. You learn from him — he’s telling (officials) the same thing, and then you can hold them accountable.”

Whether the “points of emphasis” hold throughout the season is up for debate. It seems every year there’s a move to tighten up some facet of officiating or of the game but it relaxes as the season goes along.

DeMar DeRozan makes time for students during visit to Toronto | The Star

“How appropriate was it that it was World Mental Health Day on Sunday? And here we are meeting DeMar DeRozan who has shown young people, not just NBA stars but anybody, that it’s important when you need help to speak out about it and to reach out for help.”

Perkins-Ball always had DeRozan near the top of her list of people to inspire who students for the way he makes himself vulnerable. When she realized the Bulls schedule and school year did not align for an in-class visit, she thought the next best thing would be to bring the students to him. After hours of trying to co-ordinate, Perkins-Ball eventually got connected through Goodwin Sports Management, who’s founder, Aaron Goodwin, is DeRozan’s agent.
“I was finally able to reach two beautiful women and I want to give them credit and thanks, Mary Ford and Michelle Chan of Goodwin Sports, they facilitated this whole thing through the Bulls for us.”

For student and girls basketball team member Adayana Martinez, meeting DeRozan was a way to fulfil a family dream. Students were able to take an additional person with them to the game, so Martinez took her mother. It was a way for her to honour her late uncle.

“He and my mom used to play basketball all the time when they were kids, and they used to dream about going to an NBA game and meeting a player,” Martinez said. “My mom got the chance to do that and she was really excited when we got home because she said she did it for her brother and for her.”

To Majur Bior, a member of the junior boys team, the meetup was so astonishing that he had to show everyone he knew. He was livestreaming while walking along the court, but when DeRozan showed up, he put the phone away. The moment became all about the appreciation.

Students of Saint Oscar Romero Catholic Secondary School hold signs while seated around Chicago Bulls star DeMar DeRozan at Scotiabank Arena.

“That was amazing. Like, he came back to the first team that he played with, he showed love to the Raptors fans, the fans that came to support him and the team,” said Bior.

TSN Edge: Who is the odds on favorite for NBA DPOY? – Video – TSN

With the NBA season around the corner, TSN Edge’s Wesley Cheng continues to look at the odds of award winners. In this latest edition, Wesley examines the most subjective of them all in defensive player of the year.

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