Editor's note: This story updated Feb. 7, 2024.
It has been a grueling start to the 2023-24 season for Toronto Raptors fans and Ontario sportsbooks bettors who wager on the team. The Raps are sitting at 17-33 on the season — five games out of a play-in tournament spot going into Wednesday's games.
One bright spot, however, has been the play of 2021-22 Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes. Now in his third NBA season, Barnes has emerged as the team’s most valuable player on a team that has seen its NBA championship odds fall from 100/1 in the preseason to 1000/1 with BetMGM Ontario Sportsbook. Barnes is logging big minutes and making a huge impact on both ends of the court. But will his major leap forward secure him a spot on the 2023-24 NBA All-star team for the first time in his career?
Scottie Barnes NBA All-Star Debut
Initially, Barnes was not named as either a starter or a reserve for the 2024 All-Star Game, which is to be held Feb. 18 in Indianapolis. But on Tuesday, the NBA announced Barnes as a reserve along with guard Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks. They are injury replacements for Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid and New York Knicks forward Julius Randle.
Barnes has been a huge part of Toronto’s starting five this season. His defense is strong enough that for a while he had +4000 odds at NorthStar Bets Ontario Sportsbook to win NBA Defensive Player of the Year (he now has +25000 odds). He has been stacking the stat sheet while on the court too. Barnes sits at 19th in the league in total rebounds, tied for 20th in total assists, and tied for 13th in total steals through games of Feb. 6.
He also has shown a marked improvement in his offensive contribution, averaging 20.2 points a game, nearly five ppg better than his average of 15.3 in the 2022-23 season. It’s no wonder that Ontario oddsmakers have made Barnes a candidate for the NBA’s Most Improved Player. He is sixth on the board with +5000 odds at DraftKings Ontario Sportsbook to take home that award.
Players To Make NBA All-Star Game Debut
Barnes is one of four players making his All-Star Game debut, all in the Eastern Conference.
Guard Jalen Brunson of the Knicks, guard Tyrese Maxey of the Sixers and forward Paolo Banchero of the Orlando Magic are the other players who will be making their first appearance in the NBA's midseason showcase event.
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