The Toronto Raptors ended up securing the No. 4 selection in the 2021 NBA Draft, meaning that they are widely expected to select either USC center Evan Mobley, Gonzaga point guard Jalen Suggs, or G League star Jalen Green. Still, the Raptors may not have totally shut the door on Florida State standout Scottie Barnes.
Barnes and Jonathan Kuminga are widely regarded as the fifth and sixth-best prospects in the draft after the consensus top four. While Barnes averaged just 10.3 points per game and started just seven games, his athletic potential will make him a sure-fire lottery pick.
Barnes is truly a positionless player, as he has the speed and ball-handling ability of a guard, the height of a forward, and the wingspan of a center. Considering how Toronto has made a habit of selecting versatile players that can fill multiple roles, is there a chance that Barnes ends up in red and black?
The Athletic’s John Hollinger, who ranked Barnes and Turkish center Alperen Sengun ahead of Suggs and Kuminga, claims that Barnes might be the best fit for Toronto, as his ability to switch frequently and play multiple positions on defense could be a better option for the Raptors than drafting another point guard.
Should the Toronto Raptors take Scottie Barnes over Jalen Suggs?
Barnes could line up as a small forward, power forward, or center in smaller lineups. Doing so could allow Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. to remain in the starting lineup, even if they end up choosing not to retain Kyle Lowry. Barnes would allow the Raptors to construct one of the fiercest defensive lineups in the game.
Barnes’ value in the NBA will come on the defensive side, at least early in his career, considering what a work in progress he is on that end. Barnes’ 3-point shooting is substandard for a prospect with the level of hype he is getting, and he needs some help with regards to his ability to create his own shot.
When compared to Green, who might be the best non-Cunningham offensive player in this class, or Suggs, who could be the most pro-ready player that they have available, Barnes is a bit of a work in progress. The fit might make sense in a vacuum, but the Raptors would be passing on some more qualified candidates.
If the Raptors make Barnes a full-time center or power forward, and should they either re-sign Lowry or lean on a VanVleet-Trent backcourt, this could be a very appealing move. However, this move is not only unlikely, but it would come at the expense of drafting a potential starter at point guard for a decade.
If the Raptors stay at pick No. 4, they need to take the best player available, and as good as Barnes is, he isn’t in the same tier as Mobley, Green, or Suggs.