The likelihood Barnes develops into an above-average player is quite high, but the chances of being a franchise player even at 4th overall are not.
Franchise players are not easy to come by, because to be the type of player that can carry a team several factors need to be considered. He needs to be able to lead the team defensively, as well as in the locker room, be an all-star level scorer, and he has to be the face of the franchise from a marketing standpoint. We are going to examine if Scottie Barnes has the potential to meet this criterion.
Can Scottie Barnes Be A Leader?
I remember listening to the Fan590 when they were interviewing David Thorpe (a basketball coach and analyst) about whether or not Scottie Barnes has a killer instinct. He said Scottie is the kind of guy that likes to look you in the eyes as he dunks on your face and he is not a “Mr. Nice guy on the court, he wants to kick your ass”.
But what struck me most about that interview is when he said he has a biased opinion of Scottie Barnes because his son played with Barnes at Florida State. He recalled how he had called his son one day to ask him how his practice went, his son said it was the worst practice of the year. When asked why his son remarked: Scottie Barnes had sprained his ankle slightly and wasn’t able to practice. He said “Scottie was the one that got everyone fired up”, and without him, the practice lacked energy.
All you need to know about Scottie Barnes as a leader: he is a culture guy, an energy guy who leads his team by competing as hard as he possibly can all the time. His commitment to winning is infectious. His former U17/U18 coach for USA basketball Don Showalter had this to say about him “He’s just one of those players that’s just a joy to be around,” Showalter said. “He loves the game, he’s extremely talented from the aspect that he makes everyone around him better. He would rather make a great pass than score points. When it comes down to winning and competing, he was dead-on serious about that. He competed hard.”
When not in practice, even Cade Cunningham and Jalen Suggs who both played with him on the USA basketball gold medal-winning teams, said he was the guy who would always get “everyone going”. His energy lifts the team, and his drive to win is a critical attribute for a leader.
He even refers to himself as “a natural leader.”
“I’m a guy who encourages other guys to be better,” he said. “I like seeing people be great.”
So is he a leader on and off the court? Yes, he has leadership ability in spades.
How Marketable Is A Player Like Scottie Barnes?
You can already see the Toronto Raptors propaganda machine running on all cylinders positioning Barnes as the potential face of the franchise.
You can tell that he is genuinely so thrilled about being able to play the game that he loves for a living, that the joy is just spewing out of him. He is full of smiles and very easy to market.
“He has a passion for being Scottie Barnes,” Nick Nurse said. “He has a passion for playing winning basketball. He talks about that a lot.”
Scottie just seems like he is a really nice guy. But what will truly make Torontonians happy is if he can help the team win games, which is something he can do.
So, is he marketable enough to be a franchise player? The answer is a resounding: Yes!
Can Barnes Lead The Team Defensively?
Defense is perhaps Scottie’s most NBA-ready skill. His 6’9 frame and 227lb build mean he won’t need to back down from any defensive assignment. He has the strength, agility, and quickness to guard multiple positions.
This player has great instincts and a real willingness to play defense which stems from his unbelievable desire to win games. His college coach compared him to Scottie Pippen. But what I like most is the fact he has the ability to turn his defensive intensity up a notch, in Summer League on at least 2 different games when the raptors were down, I saw him start picking up the PG full court. The aggressiveness he showed actually inspired his teammates and resulted in the team coming back and winning on both occasions.
It is rare to find a player who can affect the game on the defensive end so much it actually swings the momentum in your team’s favor.
He has an ability to get his team going defensively with his energy and intensity. But, he is also very vocal on defense. Communication is a critical factor in an elite NBA defense and being able to stay connected with his teammates gives him the potential to be a defensive anchor.
It’s possible with some hard work and experience, Scottie can be a defensive player of the year candidate or an all-NBA defender in a few years.
So, it’s pretty clear that leading his team defensively will probably not be an issue. This is what he does best.
Can Scottie Become An Elite Offensive Player?
This is the big question. Scottie can pretty much do everything else, but his offensive game ceiling is still uncertain. Most franchise players are All-Star caliber scorers and he will need to step up his game in this regard.
The obvious concern is his shooting, in college he shot 27.5% from the 3pt line and only scored an average of 10pts a game. However, he has been working on his shooting exhaustively. Nick Nurse said they spent a lot of time watching him shoot, and his shot is not broken. Scottie himself said he has already improved his shooting since college and the league is sleeping on him as a shooter.
Besides the shooting though, there is a lot to like about his offensive game. First of all, he is a great distributor because he is such a willing passer, he even played PG at FSU. He has an eye for finding the open man, and with his size, he can run the fast break after securing the defensive rebound. Something that Raptors players are always encouraged to do by their coaches.
Since he is a ball-handler, the offense gets an additional point of attack. Scottie has also shown the ability to get into the paint by putting the ball on the floor and scoring with a variety of post moves. Often, he was able to get to the line, and he converted 74% of his free throws in Summer League.
Last but not least, his defense and ability to run the floor means that he can score well in transition. Generating offense from your defense is how the Raptors like to play.
Basically, if he ever gets his 3pt shooting up to a serviceable level he can be an absolute terror on the offensive end as well. The Raptors development program has shown it has the ability to teach shooting to players coming out of college who were not necessarily known as shooters (Siakam, Anunoby, etc.).
So, Is Scottie Barnes A Potential Franchise Player?
In conclusion, he definitely has the potential. Especially if he can improve his shooting. This doesn’t mean that he will be a franchise player, many things have to happen before he can claim that title.
First of all, he needs to keep improving in every aspect of his game. Some of his skills are already NBA-ready, but they need to be elite for him to become an All-Star.
He is going to need to be the first one in the gym and the last one out of the gym for the next 2–3 years to unlock his true potential. However, if any organization can get the most out of him, the Toronto Raptors are known for their ability to develop talent.
Most importantly Barnes is going to need to stay healthy, and injury-free. If he can do that, he can be a franchise player in just a few years.