scottie barnes

VanVleet sounds off on 'ridiculous' critics of Toronto Raptors' Scottie Barnes

One thing’s always been clear about Fred VanVleet during his time with the Toronto Raptors — he’ll stick his neck out for his guys.

While everyone’s well aware of his friendship with former teammate Kyle Lowry, VanVleet has emerged as a leader on the team ever since establishing himself as a regular starter back in 2019.

And facing the wrath of social media critics this season is second-year Raptors forward Scottie Barnes, though VanVleet doesn’t seem to be too fond of them.

Barnes averaged 15.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists in 74 games in his rookie season with the Raptors in 2021-22, as he won the Rookie of the Year Award.

In year two, he has averaged 13.7 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.9 assists in 15 games this season — a slight jump in playmaking production, but not the jump many fans may have been expecting from the youngster.

But one person who’s definitely not worried about any sort of slump? VanVleet himself.

“There’s no message [for him],” VanVleet said postgame. “You guys have fun on Twitter, that’s about it. Other than that, everybody goes through it. There’s highs, there’s lows. There’s good games, there’s bad games. He’s finding his way. Just gotta continue to keep working and keep playing. Nobody around here is worried about him. We know how great of a player he’s going to be. There’s not any young player I would trade him for, and the sky’s the limit for him. Whether that’s tomorrow or in a couple years, we’ll see.”

Barnes said that VanVleet and Pascal Siakam had been texting him words of encouragement while the pair were sidelined.

“I remember on the road, Pascal, Fred telling me, stay being aggressive, be grateful. [They’re] giving me the confidence when I’m out there on the floor. I feel like that’s a big thing. I feel like I really took that to heart,” Barnes said.

VanVleet called criticism of Barnes’ performance this year “a little overblown.”

“He’ll be fine. It’s just every day you’ve gotta dissect every possession and every play, and I didn’t even realize that was a narrative until I was sitting at home watching the Detroit game,” VanVleet added. “Obviously, he can play better, we all know that, but as far as trying to make a conclusion about him as a player… I think it’s pretty ridiculous.”

Tell us how you really feel, Fred. Everyone could use a friend like that.

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