Raptors: Scottie Barnes downplays draft rivalry with Jalen Suggs

The Toronto Raptors might’ve taken Scottie Barnes with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft when everyone expected them to select Jalen Suggs, but there are probably very few fans that are doubting that selection after watching how these two have performed in their first few games.

Barnes is second among all rookies in rebounding and scoring, having helped the Raptors blow out the Celtics and Pacers despite the offense around him remaining inconsistent. Suggs, who was drafted fifth overall by the Orlando Magic, has averaged 11.6 points and 3.6 assists per game, but he’s shooting a gnarly 28% from the field.

Raptors fans have had plenty of fun pumping up Barnes at the expense of Suggs, but Scottie doesn’t seem like he wants to participate in that. In fact, Toronto’s No. 4 claims that he and Suggs are close friends, and hinted that any competition between the two is a result of social media twisting things.

Barnes, who played with Suggs on an international level during their high school career, claimed that he and Orlando’s top pick are “great friends” and adds that he knows Suggs’ family well. Despite his pleas for a ceasefire in this war, Barnes thinks that social media will “do its thing” and keep this fake beef alive.

Toronto Raptors rookie Scottie Barnes doesn’t want beef with Jalen Suggs.

The two rookies are in very different situations. While Barnes can develop as a secondary role player on a team that is trying to make the postseason, Suggs is playing heavy minutes on a very young Magic team that is openly trying to build for the future. Suggs might have more obstacles in his way to start in his career.

Regardless, Barnes seems to be imploring Raptors fans to eschew Suggs comparisons and focus on how amazing he’s been so far. The fact that Barnes has come into the league and already shown such advanced passing skills and on-ball defense is extremely impressive.

He is showing off his ability to finish inside and create more frequently than he did at Florida State, and that has him firmly in the Rookie of the Year hunt.

While Suggs is struggling right now, he’s likely to develop into a rock-solid guard with some extra seasoning in Central Florida. The temptation to compare him to Barnes in an attempt to justify the pick might be there, but Barnes himself doesn’t seem to use Suggs as a measuring stick.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that draft prospects can be human beings too, and many of the top prospects have played alongside one another for years on the AAU, high school, and international circuits. Barnes and Suggs don’t have any hate between them, and Scottie doesn’t want the internet creating some.