The Raptors upended consensus in the 2021 NBA Draft, choosing to select Florida State forward Scottie Barnes with the fourth overall pick. To say it was a complete shock isn’t quite true – there was buzz, the Raptors were at least somewhat intrigued by Barnes’ potential – but it also felt like Toronto wouldn’t take the bet (eg he felt like Jalen Suggs at # 4 was a lock).
Barnes joins the Raptors just before his 20th birthday. He is listed at 6’9 ”and 227 pounds, which puts him in the short forwards category by my calculations. Barnes spent a season at Florida State averaging 10.3 points, 4.1 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game over 24 games. Granted, the numbers don’t exactly jump – Barnes has only started seven games – but Toronto must love its potential.
That potential is what our guy JD touched on in his column here. Barnes has serious defensive skills, a player who can already hold almost any position thanks to his strength, speed and skill. The show compared him to Draymond Green, which isn’t a bad place – especially for a Raptors team that obviously values defensive ability and versatility. Like Green, Barnes presented advanced play for a striker, and he also has a limited offensive arsenal. Few people envision Barnes, who shot 28% on three and 62% on the free throw line, to be an off shooter. Maybe he gets there in time, or maybe his skills are less dependent on his shooting.
So, the risk: Did the Raptors just have a player who can’t start for the current squad with OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam stranded at the small and powerful striker? Could it be that Barnes is just another second or third placed player on a championship-caliber team? (If so, some fear he’s the next Stanley Johnson.) Overall, the question remains: Will Toronto regret missing out on Suggs?
Or do the Raptors have something else going on when it comes to building their roster? At the moment, it’s not clear, but we do know one thing at the moment: Toronto selected Scottie Barnes in the 2021 NBA Draft.