The Toronto Raptors picked up Scottie Barnes with the No. 4 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, as they decided that his blend of defensive versatility, interior finishing, and offensive potential far exceeded what Jalen Suggs, who was selected by the Orlando Magic with the very next pick, could bring to the table.
Barnes is likely going to start his pro career on the bench, as OG Anunoby and either a healthy Pascal Siakam or Chris Boucher will hold down both forward spots. However, he figures to play an incredibly important role off of the bench for Toronto this season.
Barnes remains a curious projection at the professional level. Will the Raptors play him like a traditional power forward? Will they make him a huge Ben Simmons-esque point guard off the bench? Will there be some small-ball center in his future? The possibilities are endless.
The one constant that Toronto can count on is that Barnes will provide effort and hustle on both ends, which could help translate into some very nice statistics for a player trying to fit in alongside so many established veterans.
Projecting Scottie Barnes’ stats for the Toronto Raptors
Look for Barnes to average around eight points per game as a rookie while throwing in 2.5 assists per contest. As much of a work in progress as he is with regards to his shooting, he can get to the rim with ease, and he is beyond his years when it comes to setting his teammates up with quality passes.
The big point guard talk is absolutely valid, as his passes are crisp and on target.
As far as his efficiency goes, Barnes should try to shoot around 45% from the field and 30% from the 3-point line with about two attempts per game. This volume won’t feature Barnes just chucking up shots wildly at the expense of efficiency, but it will give him a consistent enough workload to try and fix his biggest issue.
Look for Barnes to average just under one block and one steal per game. Considering how he was dominant in those two facets in Summer League, crossing the one-per-game mark might not be too unrealistic.
Barnes’ hustle and ability to force errant shots will be looked at more than his box score numbers. It’s hard for rookies to make the jump from playing Georgia Tech and Boston College to the Hawks and Celtics, but given what he offers from a physical standpoint, his length and strength should be effective from Day One.
The Raptors are placing a ton of trust in Barnes with regards to their long-term plans, and while fans might need to put up with some growing pains, he should be expected to contribute in a meaningful way this season.