3 Top 5 picks Raptors sensation Scottie Barnes is outperforming

HOUSTON, TEXAS - FEBRUARY 10: Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - FEBRUARY 10: Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
TORONTO, ON – OCTOBER 29: Jalen Suggs #4 of the Orlando Magic drives to the net against Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors‘ playoff odds in 2021-22 have been boosted by the addition of Scottie Barnes to the long-term core. The No. 4 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft has been such an impressive, versatile chess piece that he pushed his way into the starting lineup as soon as possible and never looked back.

Barnes is averaging 14.5 points on 47% shooting, 7.5 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game. While he’s had some rookie mistakes on the defensive end, Barnes has generally been promising on that end, as the versatility he has displaced has been excellent for someone who was in high school just a few years ago.

The Raptors were originally given strange looks for taking Barnes fourth overall, as concerns about his shooting and positional fit in the NBA were real. Despite the fact he has to share time with so many high-usage players in the starting lineup, he’s become an effective two-way contributor early in his career.

The Raptors should be thrilled that Barnes has hit the ground running, as he and Cleveland Cavaliers rookie Evan Mobley will likely fight it out for Rookie of the Year. Barnes has clearly been a better player than most of the top five picks he was drafted alongside.

Toronto Raptors: 3 rookies Scottie Barnes is outperforming.

3. Jalen Suggs

Suggs was the player most expected the Raptors to take over Barnes, though Orlando eventually ended up with the skilled point guard. While the Magic have seen Suggs take steps forward of late, Barnes is the clear winner when the two are compared head-to-head.

Suggs is averaging 12.4 points and 4.4 assists per game this season, but he’s doing it while making just 37% of his shots and 23% of his 3-pointers. After a standout month of January, Suggs is back to shooting 38% from the field and just 16% on 3-point shots for the Magic.

Toronto Raptors: Scottie Barnes is a better scorer than Jalen Suggs.

Barnes came into the season with some questions about his jump shot, yet he’s stroking it at a respectable 31% clip this season. When paired with his interior scoring, it becomes clear that Barnes is still the superior player on the offensive end when compared to Suggs.

While Suggs should be able to show off more of his skills if Orlando put more pieces around him, the fact that Barnes has hit the ground running as a rookie is making the sluggish start from Suggs more noticeable. Through just over one-half of the pair’s first season, Toronto’s decision to pick Barnes has been vindicated.