Ja Morant defends, praises Scottie Barnes amid bumpy second season

Memphis Grizzlies, Toronto Raptors

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Scottie Barnes has had a difficult second season but rising star Ja Morant came to his defense after a recent matchup against the Raptors.

The sliding Toronto Raptors dropped another tough game Thursday night, losing 119-106 to the Memphis Grizzlies. Defending Rookie of the Year, Scottie Barnes, put up 14 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and a block but shot just 7-of-18 from the field and missed his only 3-point attempt.

The Raptors had high hopes for this season but have fallen in the Eastern Conference standings and Barnes’ offensive struggles have drawn plenty of attention and more than a little criticism.

After the loss to Memphis, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports shared some praise and defense from Ja Morant for the Raptors rookie.

“You’ve just gotta have patience. I feel like most people don’t know what an NBA player goes through. I’m sure he’s gonna be fine. Don’t worry y’all. Everybody’s time is different. He’ll be special.”

Morant knows plenty about lofty expectations, winning Rookie of the Year himself for the 2019-20 season. His points, rebounds and assists all went up in his second season but his field goal, 3-point and free-throw percentages all declined significantly.

Why is Scottie Barnes struggling this season?

Like Morant, the biggest dip for Barnes this season has been his shooting percentages, particularly long jumpers. Last season, he made 30.1 percent of his 3s and 37.8 percent of his long 2s. This season those numbers have dropped to 30.8 and 29.8, respectively.

Barnes has continued to make an impact defensively but the Raptors have put more responsibility on him for offensive creation in the halfcourt and while his assists are up his drop in scoring efficiency has been a problem. The Raptors’ offense, as a whole, is struggling when they can’t get out in transition and Barnes is not the only issue there.

Development for young players is rarely linear and Barnes still has an incredibly bright future, as Ja Morant recognizes.

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