You don't need the latest sports package to watch Scottie Barnes lead the Toronto Raptors to victory this season, because you can simply follow him on PlayStation.
If you've engaged with Barnes at all off the court, you probably know the former NBA Rookie of the Year is also a huge gamer who loves to share his sessions via Twitch. These days, thousands of people have been tuning in to watch him play NBA 2K24 ahead of the real-life NBA season.
"I love gaming," Barnes told Narcity during a lengthy chat ahead of the NBA season. "I'm able to connect with my friends every day when I'm not seeing them all the way here in Canada."
Now he's teaming up with Sony to join the PlayStation Playmakers lineup, which is a roster of top celebrities and athletes who share their own gaming adventures with their fans. Other notable stars in the program include LeBron James and Canadian actor Finn Wolfhard, though Barnes is the newest addition to the group.
The team-up it comes at the perfect time for Barnes, who says he's been playing a lot of NBA 2K24 as he gears up for the 2023-24 NBA season. The game recreates the NBA down to the smallest details, including individual players' faces.
That means there's a video game version of Barnes in NBA 2K24, although the real player admits he doesn't play himself very often in the game. "I just like creating the player and being able to just do whatever I want out there on the floor, you know?" he said. "Unless I gotta play with my friends and (...) I've gotta smack them up a little bit," he adds with a smile.
Barnes was happy to talk about his game and his gaming in our chat, and we even got a chance to ask him how NBA players feel about being rated out of 100 for games like NBA 2K24. For instance, Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic has the highest rating in the game at 98, whereas the up-and-coming Barnes has an 83 and his rookie teammate Gradey Dick has a 72 going into the season.
"Some people, they really take that into account if the player rating isn't high," Barnes told Narcity. "One of my teammates — I'm not going to say who — he gets mad at his speed. He's actually really fast in real life, but his speed is super low in 2K, so he gets mad that."
As for his favourite Raptor to game with, Barnes says that would be O.G. Anunoby. "We used to play (Call Of Duty) with each other," he said. "And I'd probably play with Chris (Boucher). Chris plays a lot of COD."
Barnes and Boucher also apparently play a lot of NBA 2K while their on the road, according to an interview Boucher did with Toronto Life last year.
Barnes says that when he creates his own player in NBA 2K24, he always plays for the Toronto Raptors. "I ain't switching no sides," he said.
You can follow Barnes throughout the NBA season via Twitch, where he shares his gaming sessions and loves to chat with fans. He'll also frequently watch clips from games and share his unfiltered opinions, so you can get a real peek into what he's like off the floor and what he thinks about his performance on it.
Scottie Barnes' NBA 2023-24 Preview
Barnes says he's not too worried about his own video game rating. Instead, he's focused the real-life version of the game and elevating his own skills for his third NBA season, after two straight years of nearly identical stats.
Part of that progression might come thanks to his new coach, as the Raptors replaced Nick Nurse with Darko Rajakovic in the off-season.
"Darko, he sees my potential as a player as being able to just have the ball in my hand," said Barnes. "He also just trusts me a lot when I'm out on the floor. He wants me to be aggressive, he wants me to shoot the ball (...) I'm just going out there being able to play freely, to play my game."
Barnes is still just 22 years old and heading into a big year with the Raptors. His team missed the playoffs last season and he's hoping to help lead them back to the post-season alongside Pascal Siakam, the brightest star remaining from the Raps' 2019 NBA Championship run.
However, it could also be a big transition year for Barnes and the Raps. Siakam is into the last year of his current contract and at age 29, he could look to move on just as Fred VanVleet did this past off-season. That would mean handing the team off to a younger generation of players including Barnes and Gradey Dick, the highly-touted rookie whom Toronto drafted 13th overall last summer.
Dick made a big splash at the draft with his glitzy all-red outfit, and he earned plenty of fans over the summer with his silly social media posts despite not having played a game yet for the Raptors.
Barnes, who was a former Rookie of the Year himself, had nothing but good things to say about Dick ahead of the season.
"He's a great guy," said Barnes. "He's funny, he's goofy, he's only 19 so he's still a kid. He comes to practice every single day smiling, happy, making jokes, you know? That's who he is."
The two already seem to be getting along as they teamed up for a few wacky moments at the Toronto Raptors' early Halloween party. Barnes attended the event as Frozone from The Incredibles while Dick dressed up in Scooby Doo pyjama costume.
"I'm goofy as well, so our personalities are similar," Barnes told Narcity. "It's fun being around people like that and just bringing that great spirit."
The Toronto Raptors' 2023-24 season begins at home against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday, October 25, but you can get in on the NBA 2K action anytime with a PS5.