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Expecting Scottie’s scoring consistency

Can Scottie B be Scottie 15? Scottie 3? Can he do it consistently?

For the morally-outraged, keyboard mob who think I’m some sort of sports betting-peddling, morally-bankrupt individual, let’s do a quick audit.

It’s Week 5, and if I took my own advice, what would my situation be like?

In my first week I gave too much advice, so I took a more conservative approach, focusing only on RJ Barrett to score 15+ points against Boston, Miami, and Chicago. My player prop for the second week was right, but I didn’t want to be equally boring for Week 3, so I suggested 15+ points for BBQ against the Grizzlies, Knicks, and Clippers. None of those worked, and IQ didn’t play against the Clippers.

This week, RJ didn’t play, but even what I thought was a reasonable bet on Barnes to score 15+ points on FanDuel – he had 24 against Atlanta, 13 against Chicago, and 28 against Houston – turned out to be wrong as his scoring remained inconsistent. IQ had exactly six assists in his return against Houston, but my Money Line Bet was way off – I was too excited at the prospect of Poeltl returning, and expected the Raptors to put up a bit more of a fight (Barrett was out too).

So if I took my own advice, I would have been a net negative so far, and making riskier bets in the future doesn’t stop the bleeding. Thankfully, I’m an avid follower of Christopher Wallace’s Rule #4 from “Ten Crack Commandments” – I never get high off my own supply. I am, however, responsible for the advice I give, so I’ll temper my expectations hereon in. 

There’s only three more games left until the trade deadline. In upcoming games – if you’re still watching – how Scottie responds to a Sisyphean existence should help gauge the level of dog in him. Any good player has a will to win and passion for the game until shit hits the fan. Only the most passionate play their hardest all the time, and right now is a great test to see that. 

Basketball wise, he’s still not a great-ball handler and his first step can use improvement. He powered the ball down the Rockets’ throats, but now is the best chance for him to get in-game reps to work on his handle and foot speed. His three-point shooting attempts have declined – he still needs to take catch-and-shoot 3s (he didn’t have any against the Hawks) and will need to improve his pull-up three-point shooting as well. This past week, there was a specific play where he drove, kicked it out to Gradey Dick, relocated, and got the ball in the corner for a catch-and-shoot triple – and more of these need to happen. As long as he takes enough 3s to be perceived as a threat, it’ll force defences to play up ever so slightly. 

Barnes hasn’t had a consistent 15+ points games in the last two weeks, and his three-point shooting frequency has dropped, but whether the All-Star snub and being a rising star give him extra motivation remains to be seen (it did against Houston). Betting odds aside, as a Raptors fan, expecting Barnes to consistently score 15+ points per game and make 1+ 3s per game must become an expectation. Even if you disagree with Darko, hitting those two targets are a bare minimum requirement for becoming remotely close to being a “face of the league.”

Poeltl fouled out too soon in Houston’s game, but he’s averaged 12.3 points, 9 rebounds and 2.8 blocks through four games in January (in between the OG and Pascal trade). It should be expected that he gets 10+ points and 8+ rebounds per game as one of the team’s highest-paid players. And his comeback should make it easier for Scottie to score as well. Barnes had 20, 20, 20, and 6 points in the four games he played with Poeltl in January (against Cleveland, Memphis, Sacramento, and Golden State).  

Betting on Scottie to score 15+ points against OKC, New Orleans, and Charlotte is still risky, but it’s very attainable. Betting on him to make 1+ 3s through three games is risky too given his recent performance, but with Poeltl back, it may allow him to diversify his shot diet aside from just relentlessly attacking the paint.

We could be looking at a different squad next week, so use this week to assess Scottie’s offensive growth.