How has the Will Barton experiment gone?

On Will Barton's time as a Toronto Raptor.

On February,28th, former Washington Wizard Will Barton signed with the Toronto Raptor after a disappointing season with Washington. Toronto has been plagued by subpar play at the guard position for most of the season, and instead of allowing Jeff Dowtin Jr. to shore up the backup point guard role, they decided to go with Barton and it has had disappointing results.

Signing Barton was a low risk move at its core, he averaged 7.7 points and 2.4 assists on 39 percent from the field and 38 percent from three. His scoring production was essentially half of what it was compared to his last season in Denver and this forced Washington to remove him from the rotation.

In 11 games with Toronto, Will Barton has averaged 2.8 points,  1 assist, and 1.5 rebounds, on 26 percent shooting from the field, and 20 percent shooting from three. Barton was not brought in to be a volume scorer off the bench, but he was brought in to be a secondary ball handler who can space the floor and punish teams for loading up on Toronto’s stars and he just hasn’t done that. The looks Barton has gotten have been mostly uncontested and off the ball as a result of his man often leaving him to muck things up for a primary ball handler, which is the exact type of look you want for a secondary player and he just hasn’t taken advantage of them.

In the first clip, Buddy Held is helping off Barton and loses track of him and he does a good job in relocating to make the pass simpler for Fred VanVleet but then he just can’t hit the shot.

In the second clip he gets a great screen from Jakob Poetl and that clears him up for a pull up mid ranger against Brook in drop coverage and he just can’t knock it down.

Josh Giddey is ditching Barton here in the first clip to go help on the OG Anunoby drive, leaving Barton with plenty of space and time to cash the triple and he just can’t take advantage once again. In the second clip Barton again does a good job of relocating to provide a better passing angle and Fred even places himself in front of Hield so he can have a harder time closing out but once again Barton just doesn’t knock down the shot.

Barton is doing all the right things before the shot, he’s relocating, he’s never in the way of an action, he’s always prepared to shoot, but all that means little if more often than not he isn’t sinking the jumper. The offensive struggles are not from a lack of good opportunity or space which makes them all the more baffling.

These offensive limitations could perhaps be forgiven if he was giving you anything on the defensive end but unfortunately that has not been the case thus far. On a team that has struggled at the point-of-attack all season long, Barton has not made things better at all.

In the first clip the Pacers are running Spain pick-and-roll and Barton fails to realize he is supposed to switch into the shooter in this action which leads to Jakob Poetl having to feint towards him, ultimately leading to a layup. In the second clip Barton attempts to help on the Buddy Hield drive, and completely loses Andrew Nembhard and he knocks down the open triple.

In this clip, Barton simply gets blown by at the point-of-attack leading to an easy layup for Nembhard.

Barton does not possess the foot speed to stick with guards, and his off ball defense hasn’t been good either, which just exacerbates the negatives that come with him speeding extended periods of time on the floor.

The thought process behind signing Will Barton is very straightforward, in the past he showed some ability as a floor spacer and secondary ball handler, and those are areas that Toronto struggles in so they brought him in hoping he could help in those areas. What we have seen in his 11 games with Toronto however, is that he can not contribute to winning right now. Barton has a great sample size of being an adequate shooter based on his time in Denver so there is hope that his shooting regresses back to form, but with Toronto in the play in race there may not be enough time for them to wait for that.

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