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Kevin Durant Discusses Nick Nurse Keeping Him Up At Night & Scottie Barnes' Budding Potential

Toronto Raptors rookie Scottie Barnes impressed Kevin Durant who joked about being kept up at night by Nick Nurse's complex defensive schemes

Kevin Durant couldn’t have had a very good sleep Saturday night.

It’s not that he was returning to Scotiabank Arena for the first time since Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals when he tore his Achilles in what he called the lowest moment of his career. That memory was nothing compared to what Durant knew was awaiting him schematically from the Toronto Raptors.

“Just more so thinking about Nick Nurse and the type of coach he is and how he guards me and the schemes and adjustments they make throughout a game it’s pretty impressive,” Durant said. “As an opposing player, it can keep you up at night.”

It wasn’t as though Toronto kept Durant under wraps Saturday afternoon. He did score 31 points on 11-for-18 shooting, but the Raptors did force him into a season-high seven turnovers leading directly to 10 Raptors points. Three of those turnovers came courtesy of Durant’s newest nemesis: rookie Scottie Barnes.

“How old is he? 19? 20?” Durant asked post-game. “Sheesh”

It was the mix of basketball IQ, length, and enthusiasm for the game that Durant said jumped out to him about Barnes.

“All of that stuff shines bright when you watch him play,” said the future Hall of Famer. “You could tell he just wants to be there for his teammates. He makes winning basketball plays. I think a lot of young guys in the league have that competitive fire, but he has some little extra as far as just seeing a game, being a little slower and that's rare.”

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“He knows how to play the right way and he's only gonna get better.”

After the game, Nurse was very complimentary of Barnes’ defense. He spent the bulk of the night on James Harden, holding him to just six points in 21.40 partial possessions, per NBA Stats. Early in the game, however, Barnes did find himself on Durant who spun around in isolation and nailed a 14-footer over the young rookie. Nurse quickly pulled Barnes aside to talk over how they’d like to defend the all-world scorer.

“He did pretty good. I thought he was good,” Nurse said. “I’m more disappointed he wasn’t more aggressive offensively tonight. I thought he was doing a lot of east-west driving."

Barnes attempted just seven shots and on a night in which Toronto needed a little more offensive firepower against the daunting Nets, Nurse wanted more from his rookie forward. 

Further Reading

Pascal Siakam's return spoiled by Kevin Durant & James Harden

Raptors clear Pascal Siakam to return for Sunday

New contracts have allowed Khem Birch & Gary Trent Jr. to thrive this season