Friday, September 30, 2022

Raptors coach nurse impressed Scotty Barnes during the four-day camp. CBC Sports

Nick Nurse’s challenge for Scotty Barnes this past off-season was to improve his game. Pretty straightforward, but not necessarily so easy to come out of an excellent rookie season.

“We were all talking about what’s his roof? What’s his roof? What’s his roof? And for me, he continues to play as hard and compete as hard as he can … experience And with time and skill work and skills improving, he’ll just keep moving towards that ceiling,” said the nurse.

“But I think it’s a challenge, isn’t it? I think it’s a challenge,” he said. “The kid worked hard last year and the kid competed last year, and can you keep doing that every time the ball goes up?”

Barnes, 21, who was drafted fourth overall by Toronto, earned NBA Rookie of the Year honors last season, averaging 15.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists in a game on 49.2 percent shooting.

In a four-day training camp at the University of Victoria, Nurse has seen an improvement in Barnes’ shooting.

“It looks like it’s better and he’s making more of the rhythm of what we’re doing,” the nurse said after Friday’s practice. “He’s not hesitant to take them at all, all three. He’s still doing the rest. He has that long, slow, strong drive where he puts it in the basket.

“He has that pull-up thing when he has a size advantage. But the frequency with which he’s letting them go is definitely increasing.”

Nurse said Barnes has also improved in his six-foot-nine 227-pound physique.

“Every time I saw him over the summer I would go ‘Whoa!’ … He’s in great shape. He looks strong and I think the good thing is he feels it too, and he’s using it right? He’s a physical player, which is good.”

Struggling for roster spot

The battle for the final roster spot between Toronto natives Delano Banton, Justin Champagne, DJ Wilson and Josh Jackson has been fierce in the camp so far.

“We do a staff vote every day and that vote changes every single day,” said the nurse. “You can tell it’s competitive.”

The Raptors have 20 players in their camp, and will have to reduce them to a roster of 15, with two players on two-way deals between the NBA team and the club’s G League affiliate Raptors 905.

“It will be interesting,” said the nurse. “You can make the case for almost everyone. We’ll start dialing it in now.”

The evaluation of bubble players will continue at the pre-season opener in Edmonton on Sunday.

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