RJ Barrett’s time as a member of the Raptors is off to a productive start.
After Barrett ushered in his homecoming with an impressive debut in front of family and friends at Scotiabank Arena, he and the Raptors took their show on the road to embark on a lengthy six-game trip. And despite the seemingly nonstop travel, Barrett keeps finding ways to impress.
What can we take from how Barrett has looked in a Raptors uniform? Based on what we’ve seen and what he has the potential to become, here’s a quick check-in as he begins to crack the surface of his potential in Toronto.
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Grading RJ Barrett’s early returns with Raptors
Barrett didn’t waste much time making his presence felt in Toronto. In his debut, he finished one rebound shy of a double-double with 19 points (on 6-of-12 shooting) and nine boards while seeing less than 30 minutes of action in a win over Cleveland.
Because Barrett was getting accustomed to a new system with a new team, his numbers speak to a natural ability to make plays on offense. He was able to score in transition, create for himself with drives in the halfcourt and play off of others.
MORE: RJ Barrett’s trade to Raptors is a full circle moment
The biggest mark of Barrett’s skill as a natural scorer was his ability to get to the line against the Cavs. He ended his debut having shot 6-of-8 from the charity stripe.
Barrett’s scoring took a step back in his second and third games, only for him to explode in his fourth game as a Raptor, which doubles as his strongest performance of the 2023-24 season.
Based on Basketball Reference’s Game Score metric, which gives a rough measure of a player’s productivity for a single game, it’s also the best performance of Barrett’s career.
As Toronto embarrassed Golden State on its home floor, Barrett did a bit of everything, canning five triples en route to 37 points, six rebounds and six assists. While performances like that shouldn’t be expected as the norm, they do serve as a reminder of what Barrett is capable of.
🇨🇦 Represent The Canadians 🇨🇦
RJ Barrett | vs. Golden State
5 THREE POINTERS
6 REBOUNDS@Raptors | #WeTheNorth pic.twitter.com/GfwJWSbg0m
— NBA Canada (@NBACanada) January 8, 2024
Speaking of reminders, here’s another one: Barrett is a 23-year-old former No. 3 overall pick who’s been rejuvenated by a new beginning with his hometown team.
Along with 22-year-old Scottie Barnes and 24-year-old Immanuel Quickley, Barrett rounds out a future-focused triumvirate that the Raptors have assembled with the aim of once again being among the elite teams in the East.
MORE: Why Immanuel Quickley is an ideal long-term fit with Scottie Barnes
With a new system has come new responsibilities and a new approach for Barrett, who is averaging 21.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists while shooting 59.3 percent from the field and 53.6 percent from 3-point range through six games as a Raptor — all marks that would be career-highs for him if they held for a full season.
There will almost certainly be regression, but Barrett has hit the ground running while looking extremely comfortable in his new situation. Even more encouraging is head coach Darko Rajakovic’s reputation for developing wing talents.
Barrett is not the same player as Desmond Bane or Mikal Bridges, but a look at what Rajakovic has done for their respective careers should excite Raptors fans.
With O.G. Anunoby thriving in New York and Quickley also impressing early on, this trade could age as one of the rare win-wins for everyone involved.
RJ Barrett Raptors stats
- 21.8 points per game
- 6.8 rebounds per game
- 3.5 assists per game
- 0.7 steals per game
- 2.5 turnovers per game
- 59.3 percent field goal shooting
- 53.6 percent 3-point shooting
- 76.9 percent free throw shooting