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Barnes not the only Raptors’ rookie making headway

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In a season in which Scottie Barnes dominates all or any Raptors’ talk league-wide, Dalano Banton is quietly putting together a pretty impactful rookie season of his own.

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Since training camp, the pride of Rexdale and the first ever Canadian drafted by the Raptors has carved his own niche, at least locally, when it comes to youngsters making an impression.

Barnes is full value for the attention he gets across the league and looks like the superstar-in-the-making the Raptors brain trust saw when they selected him, but when you’re he guy drafted behind him and making your own inroads in an NBA that can eat a rookie up in no time, it might be nice if the shadow cast by the first pick wasn’t so all-encompassing.

Credit Nurse for making sure that doesn’t happen locally as he continually talks up the 46th pick even if the majority of the questions he gets are directed at the Raptors’ first round and fourth overall pick.

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Both rookies are being told the same thing by their head coach right now. It started a little over a week ago when Nurse suggested Barnes had to start focusing on his three-point game. Barnes has responded with 10 threes in his past three games on 21 attempts.

Yesterday it was Banton the coach was targetting to expand that part of his game suggesting he wanted to see him take at least three or four in the 905 game with the Capitol City GoGo Saturday.

“He’s really improved,” Nurse said of Banton’s shooting. “He’s actually probably had to make more changes and had further to go than Scottie (Barnes) as far as mechanics and form and that kind of thing, and he’s done it all really well. Looks good to me. He’s going to get there like, like, I’m totally confident he’s going to get there and it’s just a matter of how fast we can speed up the process.”

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It just so happens to be the perfect week for it too as Banton is going to potentially play more minutes in the coming week split between his G-League appearances and his regular work coming off the Raptors bench.

Barnes wasn’t at practice yesterday as he was down the QEW taking part in the first of four possible games with the 905 over the next week.

Throw in the four Raptors games all scheduled for the home court over the next nine days in between those four 905 games and Banton is going to have no shortage of opportunities to really lean into that three-point shot Nurse is asking him to take.

It’s a proven formula that has worked with guys like Norm Powell and Siakam and Fred VanVleet before Banton and explains Nurse’s confidence that this development is only a matter of time.

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SIAKAM CAN’T GET TOO EXCITED

Pascal Siakam is doing Pascal Siakam things again. The issue of late has been keeping him in the game.

Siakam fouled out of Sunday’s game and had was in foul trouble in each of the previous two which both ended with him sitting on five fouls and one away from an ejection.

“For me I was just watching these games and getting super excited about how they let things go,” Siakam said of the early part of the season when the whistle was significantly looser than it has been the past couple of weeks.

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“You know what I mean? It was exciting and I got too excited about it,” Siakam said. “I think that period of time is gone now. I feel like it’s not that anymore. So I just have to be mindful of that. Just getting away from the cheap ones, the little slaps or whatever – If   I’m going to have a foul I would rather it be an actual foul preventing someone from scoring or a foul I actually want to give.

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“Just staying away from the cheap ones and hopefully the gods will be on my side one of these days and I won’t foul out,” he said.

It’s not just the fouling out by the potential to foul out that forces Nurse and his coaching staff to sit Siakam for longer stretches than they normally would to ensure he’s still available late in a game when needed.

There’s no question the whistle is considerably tighter with officials letting much less contact go than they had been earlier in the year. It’s up to Siakam now to make that adjustment.

THE ALL-NEW WIZARDS

Game-planning for the Washington Wizards always begins with schemes to limit Bradley Beal and his opportunities. Beyond that though it’s tough with newcomers like Spencer Dinwiddie, Montrezl Harrell and Kyle Kuzma all showing themselves worthy of second consideration for that member of the Wizards that has to be stopped.

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Asked his approach, Nick Nurse said it was really a difficult question to answer.

“Dinwiddie can obviously score a period and then you’ve got the big shooters that they’re running sets for with (Davis) Bertans and (Kyle) Kuzma and those guys and then they bring in another big. So I don’t really have an answer for you.” Nurse said. “I think it’s on the night where if you circle a focal point I would say Harrell and Dinwiddie are right behind him (Beal)] at this point and it’s…I don’t know. It’s hard to answer.”
The Wizards sit comfortably in a tie for third place in the East with pre-season favourites Miami and Milwaukee as they arrive in Toronto for the second time already this young season.

Fans may not want to remember opening night when the Wizards spoiled the home and season opener with a 98-83 beatdown in which the Raptors were never really a threat.

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