The Toronto Raptors decided to make Florida State standout Scottie Barnes the No. 4 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, as they were so intrigued by his style of play and athletic gifts that they decided to bypass expected No. 4 pick Jalen Suggs, who was taken with the next selection by the Orlando Magic.
Barnes is one of the great unknowns in this class. While he has power forward size at 6-9 and just under 230 pounds, his game looks like that of a traditional point guard, as he is at home handling the ball, driving to the lane, and making key passes.
Barnes comes into the NBA with some major flaws that he needs to address, namely his ability to create offense for himself and shoot from the perimeter. These have proven to be fixable flaws, especially with a player development culture as strong as the one in Toronto, but it will take some time.
The Raptors could go in one of several different directions this offseason considering the uncertainty surrounding Kyle Lowry’s free agency pursuit, and the selection of Barnes did little to provide more clarity.
While the term “positionless” has become trite and overused, Barnes is the truest definition of that word. Is ie a Ben Simmons-esque huge point guard with great passing skills? Perhaps a small-ball center with the speed to run the floor? A traditional power forward? Who knows!
Even with Lowry up in the air, the expectation is that Gary Trent Jr. will be back in the fold next year, and Toronto should have enough cap space to pursue a quality center if they want to. Pascal Siakam has tons of trade rumors surrounding him, but he’s still here as of right now.
Nick Nurse and the Raptors could throw out several different lineup combinations next year, as Barnes could allow them almost unparalleled versatility. Don’t be surprised if Toronto rolls out one of these two combinations at the start of next season.