Scottie Barnes is simply an outstanding prospect with remarkable upside – depending on if he’s utilized correctly. We’ll be looking at his Florida State film and some clips from Summer League to help showcase what kind of player Raptors fans can expect going forward, and how best to maximize his potential. I originally covered Barnes as one of my favourite prospects to look at when targeting players for the 7th pick. Funny how things work out. Looking back at that article, I should also mention how much my list of preferred prospects changed leading up to draft night. Keon Johnson? Yuck.
Needless to say, July 29th was a surprising day for most Raptors fans and draft enthusiasts in general. You’re lying if you were following the draft closely and expected to start the season with anyone not named Jalen Suggs. With that initial shock behind us, and having seen the 4th overall pick put on a show in Summer League, it’s safe to say that we can start looking towards the future of the Raptors which will no doubt be highlighted by a certain Florida State alum.
You’re familiar with my scouting reports by now – we’ll evaluate offence, defence, areas of improvement, and the overall fit of the player on the team. I know you’re all getting a little restless waiting for the season to start, so what better way to satisfy that basketball itch than some Scottie Barnes content?
Scottie Barnes | 20 y/o | PG/PF | 6’9 | Florida State | Archetype: Point Forward/Big Playmaker
The whole reasoning behind drafting a player like Scottie is you’re getting a 6’8-6’9 player who can play the role of a point guard. In a league trending towards length and having non-traditional playmakers on the floor, Barnes fits the mold to a T.
He’s great in transition, both as the initiator and the finisher. He keeps his head up and has some accurate reads.
He’s capable of moving the ball around the perimeter and his size lets him set up a screen.
He can use his long legs to just completely separate himself from everyone else, and his athleticism should allow for him to show off some nasty dunks.
He showcased some nice post moves and turnarounds in Summer League, would like to see that continue.
Scottie in downhill is an absolute terror. His combo of strength and bulldozing ability of getting to the rim against a disrupted defence will prove to be very problematic for some teams who can’t keep him out of transition.
His usage in the pick and roll at Florida State was also impressive.
Offence is certainly the area of Scottie’s game that needs the most TLC, but he has an excellent foundation to work with, especially with his playmaking prowess.
This section will be mostly clips just showcasing what Barnes can do. He’s a special defensive prospect. Hustle, grit, strength, incredible physical measurements, Scottie checks most of the boxes that scouts look for.
I’ve always been extremely vocal about Scottie’s defensive expertise and how he’s a top 5 defender coming out of this draft.
Aside from his massive frame and long arms, he can be a pest who boasts incredible IQ with regards to positioning and digging in against his defenders.
His ability to stay with his man is impressive and should only improve against NBA competition.
Not even mentioning his ability to pick the lane.
I’m not saying defensive player of the year potential or anything, but Barnes and OG is about as good of a young defensive tandem as any team could ask for. I don’t have many concerns with Scottie defensively.
Put bluntly, Scottie’s offence needs a lot of work. Oren Weisfeld had a great article highlighting some of Scottie’s weaknesses and fit concerns, but one thing in particular jumped out at me.
“Nick Nurse believes that his jump shot is not broken, it just needs some work, but many draft analysts are more skeptical that it can be fixed.”
Mark me down as one of those draft analysts. Nick did highlight this in his interview shortly after Barnes was drafted, stating that it was simply a few mechanical issues at play. Watching Barnes at Florida State, it’s hard to agree with Nurse here unless Scottie magically managed to fix his jumper over the course of an offseason – a truly unprecedented feat for a rookie. I do believe that Scottie can develop his shot and become a mid-high 30’s% shooter, but it will take a few years.
I think the biggest thing that jumps out about Scottie’s shot is how stiff and robotic it looks.
His feet tend to be really wide and he doesn’t get a lot of lift or fluidity when he brings the ball up. That leads to a lot of inconsistency in his shots, where he can look like a real shooter during one play and then completely airball the next couple attempts. Overall, I think consistency plays a factor too. Scottie didn’t take many threes at Florida State, so he never got consistent reps. His wonky release surely didn’t help with that.
Stiffness in general tends to be a pretty big issue with Scottie. It’s obvious in his shooting form, but even when he’s dribbling he doesn’t actually have very much fluidity to any of his movements, and he’s just straight up slow when transitioning into any sort of pull-up. Opposing players are going to be going under any sort of screens set for him.
He’s farther along than most players his size tend to be, but it’s difficult to foresee him becoming any sort of ISO creator barring some unprecedented developments.
I won’t lie, the fit is a bit weird. I’ve gone at length how I believe Scottie’s best developmental position is the point guard. He played the point at Florida State and he believes he is a point guard going off his Instagram bio and numerous interviews. He has the playmaking vision to fit that bill, and would be a mismatch nightmare for 90% of the league. Scottie’s role seems to speak for itself. If Bobby and Masai truly believe what they say when they tell us that they want a positionless and versatile lineup, then it would make sense to place the 6’9 prospect with incredible playmaking vision in the best spot to run point. Does Nick Nurse envision him in that role? Will he slowly be brought along as opposed to being thrown into the fire and allowed to make mistakes? Does Nurse plan to play him as more of a Draymond-style playmaking forward? If so, how does that fit next to Pascal and OG? Will Scottie’s on-ball playmaking versatility finally lead to Fred moving off-ball? It’s a lot of questions. Ones I don’t have the answers to right now, but I will personally throw a fit if Scottie isn’t given ample opportunity at point guard. I’m already a little disappointed that a top 5 pick is expected to come off the bench for most likely his entire rookie season (once Pascal gets back).
The long-term outlook gets a bit murkier. I don’t expect Scottie to dethrone any of the starters right away, but I could easily see himself making a case for starting at PG or one of the forward spots before the end of his rookie contract. By the time that happens, Pascal and Fred will be 30 years old and looking for new deals – as both are left with 3 years left on their current contracts (actually 2 for Fred, as he has a player option in the third remaining year that he will more than likely decline). OG is penciled in as the starter at the 3 for the foreseeable future, so I won’t even entertain any ideas where he’s moved. I wouldn’t really expect Scottie to be a real option at the 5 either, outside of maybe closing lineups.
If and when that day comes, I’d be curious to see what kind of roster gymnastics that Nurse and Masai utilize in order to best work around Barnes. Otherwise it would just be a waste to have him continue coming off the bench.
Scottie’s playmaking and defensive versatility will keep him on the floor for what will almost certainly be a long NBA career. The largest question-mark lies with his offensive game. The shot is obviously a large skill that needs to come along, but just becoming a shooter won’t be enough. Scottie will need to develop his dribbling, overall moves on the perimeter, his cutting, slashing, anything that can turn him into an on-ball threat. If he can manage that, then we could have a truly unique player on our hands. If he fails to develop those skills, he’ll no doubt be an excellent role player, but it’s hard to envision him contributing in a role larger than that without a true offensive arsenal.
In the mean time, I’m very much looking forward to seeing how a top 5 pick develops on the Raptors. I’m intrigued by Scottie’s long-term outlook, and curious if he can match the high expectations that Raptors brass and fans have set for him.