The Toronto Raptors decided to use the No. 4 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft on Florida State forward Scottie Barnes, as his combination of defensive intensity and offensive potential intrigued Masai Ujiri. Unfortunately, players like Stanley Johnson had to bite the dust to make room for additions like Barnes.
Johnson was not retained by Ujiri, though he was able to parlay his defensive abilities into yet another contract, this time with the Chicago Bulls. The former No. 8 overall pick stands 6-6, yet had a tremendous wingspan that enables him to defend multiple positions. Sound familiar?
As good as Barnes is on defense, and as infectious as his personality may be, the reason many believed that Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs would’ve been the better pick is his skills on the offensive end. We’ve seen countless players get drafted this high based on potential, only to see them fizzle out, and there is a very real possibility that the same fate befalls Barnes.
Despite that daunting future, Raptors fans and the organization as a whole should take comfort in the idea that Barnes won’t approach Johnson’s territory. Based on his style of play and the infrastructure around him, Toronto will improve Barnes’ shooting and offensive confidence more than Detroit did with Johnson.
Toronto Raptors rookie Scottie Barnes should evolve into a solid scorer.
While Johnson put up better 3-point shooting numbers than Barnes in college, Barnes making 50% of his shots overall (as compared to Johnson’s 44.6%) show that he already has the ability to finish at the rim with ease. Improving a mechanical shooting flaw might be easier than getting that sort of touch near the rim.
Johnson, unfortunately, went to one of the worst environments for offensive development when he was drafted by Detroit. Not only was he buried behind better players at his position for most of the early stages of his career, but he was coached by Stan Van Gundy, who notoriously values defense over offense.
Barnes will be allowed plenty of opportunities as a ball-handler and scorer with the second unit, and those minutes will come under the watchful eye of one of the best designers of offense and shot doctors in the game in Nick Nurse.
That added to the fact Barnes came into the pros as a better athlete and ball-handler should erase the Johnson comparisons from anyone’s mind.
Barnes has some questions surrounding his game, but the environment he landed in with Toronto is much better than what a player like Johnson had in Detroit. Barnes is a 3-point shot away from being a deadly offensive player, and Nurse has enough tools at his disposal to help him realize that goal.