The Toronto Raptors have spent the last season getting showered in praise for their decision to select Scottie Barnes with the No. 4 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft over a player in Jalen Suggs many thought was a Toronto lock. Just one year in the future, Barnes already has a Rookie of the Year in his trophy case.
While he faced a stern challenge from names like Evan Mobley and Cade Cunningham, the voters were ultimately not able to look past the fact that Barnes’ gaudy numbers came on a team that made it to the postseason. Barnes was a force on offense while flashing his defensive potential regularly.
The Raptors were able to peel off the Kyle Lowry Band-Aid fairly easily after landing a young stud like Barnes that the rotation can gravitate around. The rest of the league is green with envy, as Masai Ujiri’s prized pupil is regarded very highly by other GMs.
A poll of 15 NBA executives ranked Barnes as the seventh-best player under 25 years old to build around. While names like Luka Doncic and Ja Morant were ahead of him, these executives ranked Barnes higher than Darius Garland, LaMelo Ball, and Trae Young. Not bad for a second-year wing.
Toronto Raptors: Scottie Barnes ranked as a top youngster.
In a year where many preseason prognosticators would have been happy with Barnes averaging double digits in points per game, Scottie smashed all expectations by putting up 15.3 points per game despite a limited volume of shots he received on this quality Raptors team.
Barnes’ long-term potential is even more enticing than it was when they drafted him, as he proved to be further along on the offensive end than most thought. If he can get his 3-point shot in order, Scottie should have no trouble remaining high on this list in the next few years.
The Raptors will have to extend Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam at some point in the immediate future, but they have to be very careful about how they go about it. Barnes quickly became such a revered figure around the NBA that he is regarded as a better long-term asset than multiple All-Stars.
It’s on Barnes to make sure that he continues to tap into his potential and make these executives look good for placing him on such a high pedestal. Considering that even the biggest Barnes fan was blown away by his performance last year, 2022-23 promises to be even more show-stopping.