The Toronto Raptors struck gold last season when they drafted the eventual Rookie of the Year in Florida State forward Scottie Barnes. After being mocked on draft night due to presumed No. 4 pick Jalen Suggs being passed over, Barnes has shown he was the superior player.
After averaging 15.3 points and 7.5 rebounds per game during his first season in the pros, including a second half in which he had nine double-doubles, Barnes quickly went from intriguing young talent to bonafide two-way standout. Even when compared to top young players across the league, Barnes stands out.
Bleacher Report ranked the top 15 players in the NBA drafted between 2017 and 2021, differentiated by how desirable they are as a long-term building block. Barnes came in at No. 10, behind names like Evan Mobley and LaMelo Ball but ahead of studs like No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham and Raptors trade target Donovan Mitchell.
When you’re thought of as a player who can easily reach such an elite, rarified tier, it makes sense as to why Toronto is bending over backward to make sure that Scottie develops into a superstar for the next decade. If B/R’s scouting eye proves quality, he should be well on his way.
Toronto Raptors: Scottie Barnes’ long-term potential was praised.
While it would be a stretch to say that Barnes came into an adverse situation during his rookie year, Toronto only allowed him to tale the fifth-most shots on the team. Rookies like Cunningham and Mobley were thrust into more featured roles, yet they couldn’t match Barnes’ skill.
Barnes has been hard at work trying to improve his jump shot, as his lack of tremendous perimeter offense was the biggest thing holding him back last season. Already a competent defender, quality rebounder, and above-average interior finisher, fixing the jumper would work wonders.
Part of the reason that Barnes has already been placed above some illustrious names is the fact he’s proven he can contribute to a winning culture as a 20-year-old. As his role expands over time, the expectation is that Barnes will become an even more effective two-way player.
The Raptors needed someone to give them some consistency and stability as they try to turn into contenders in the post-Kyle Lowry era. It might take some time before he reaches his full potential under Nick Nurse, but it looks like he is well on his way to stardom.