Scottie Barnes NBA Draft Profile & Outlook: Florida State Forward Likely to Land in Top 5
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images. Pictured: Former Florida State star Scottie Barnes.
Scottie Barnes NBA Draft Odds & Profile
|Projected Pick (Odds)||No. 5 (-225)|
|Odds as of Monday via BetMGM.|
It’s finally NBA Draft week and we’re starting to get a pretty good feel for how those top-five picks will shake out. And more and more, it sure looks like Florida State forward Scottie Barnes will find himself among those selections.
For most of the year, scouts and evaluators have talked about a clear top-five tier, with the same names separating themselves at the top of the draft.
You can read a full, in-depth scouting report on those players here at Action Network:
- Cade Cunningham, Oklahoma State
- Jalen Green, G League Ignite
- Evan Mobley, USC
- Jalen Suggs, Gonzaga
- Jonathan Kuminga, G League Ignite
However, as the draft cycle has gone along, Jonathan Kuminga’s stock has begun to slide. At first, it was noticeable that Kuminga was always last of the five and then he started to be left out altogether. And as Kuminga’s stock continues to slip, Scottie Barnes appears to be the big winner.
Barnes began as one of the options for the No. 5 pick, then closed the gap on Kuminga and overtook him about a week ago, Now, Barnes is a strong favorite at -225 odds at DraftKings. And that’s just to be selected exactly at pick No. 5. He’s an even stronger favorite to be selected somewhere in the top five, with his draft position over/under set at 5.5 and the under a whopping -400 odds. The over is at +275 if you’re not a believer.
So, who exactly is Barnes and why is he rising so quickly on draft boards?
Barnes Showed Signs of Greatness in High School
Flash back to a year ago. You might remember a young Florida State forward rising quickly up the draft ranks. You were probably confused. Who was this raw, gangling forward with the huge wingspan and raw skills? How was it possible that a freshman who didn’t even start all year was now a lottery pick and, eventually, the No. 4 overall pick?
That was Patrick Williams, who had a really impressive and encouraging rookie season for the Chicago Bulls. This year, it’s almost the exact same scenario, because that’s just what Barnes is. He’s another super-long forward with a huge wingspan and raw skills, who came off the bench for Florida State and then rose through the draft process.
I first noticed Barnes in high school. I actually tuned in to watch his more highly-touted teammate, but I couldn’t take my eyes off Barnes. He was everywhere. He defended guys at every position. He passed and facilitated for his teammates, crashed the boards and played with endless energy.
Barnes did a little bit of everything. He was the fiery leader of a very good team, a guy who did all the little things and lead by example. I knew right then and there I’d found my 2021 NBA Draft crush.
By the way, that highly-touted high school teammate? Cade Cunningham.
Scottie Barnes w/ some nice highlights this season—the celebrations aren’t too shabby, either…👀
— Tomahawk Nation (@TomahawkNation) February 19, 2021
Barnes stands 6-foot-8, with a monstrous 7-foot-3 wingspan and a gigantic 9-foot reach. That’s big size for a wing and big enough to play the four position full time, perhaps even some regular small-ball center. And do you know what position Barnes played as a freshman for a good Florida State team?
He was the point guard.
Barnes averaged 10.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.1 assists in under 25 minutes per game off the bench for the Seminoles, adding more than two steals per game to boot. Just like in high school, he filled up the box score and did a bit of everything.
Barnes is a long, nasty, versatile defender with an incredible passing ability for a guy his size. Does all of this sound like any other modern NBA player you’ve heard of, maybe one with three NBA championship rings? It’s a copycat league and everyone wants the next Draymond Green.
And Barnes might be the next Green.
The big question is whether Barnes can play enough offense to keep all his defensive abilities on the court long enough to matter.
Strong Defensive Upside Worth Investment
Barnes looks like an ideal complementary NBA four when it comes to his position. In a league with an increasing number of star offense-first centers who can’t always defend, Barnes looks like the perfect co-star.
He’s a tenacious defender and has incredible defensive instincts. Barnes’ huge wingspan and fluid motion give him the sort of versatility every team covets from a defender.
Barnes has natural mirroring skills and super fluid hips, so he’s able to switch easily onto most other players and defend them at the perimeter. He moves his feet to stay in front of them, swallowing them whole with his length. This is a guy who would occasionally pick up opposing point guards and full-court press them just because he could.
Barnes is a big-time playmaker on defense. He has terrific steal and block numbers, and he has a nose for the ball. Like an NFL safety, he always seems to be in the mix. Plus, he has quick hands and terrific closing speed.
That makes him a disruptive force, with his instincts and abilities making him a tremendous help defender. His size also helps give him some real rim-protection ability. His standing reach is about the same as many NBA centers.
Basically, you have a wing with center length playing point guard. Needless to say, Barnes is a freak of nature.
The energy is constant as well. Some of my favorite plays involving Barnes would have been non-plays for almost any other player. On one play against North Carolina, Barnes was pressuring some poor opposing guard about 70 feet from the hope and absolutely got his clock cleaned on a huge pick.
I mean, he got trucked, straight onto the court. Any other player lies on the ground to catch his breath (and dignity) or looks to the referee for a call. As for Barnes? Hilariously, he hopped to his feet a split second later without a reaction and sprinted full speed back into defense and made a play.
That’s Scottie Barnes in a nutshell.
But what about the offense?
Can Barnes Find Decent Role on Offense?
As much as Barnes is an obvious fit in the modern NBA as a defender, he might find it difficult to find the right role on offense.
Barnes is not a scorer. He’s just not wired to pour in the points. He’s a connecting piece, someone who tries to make his teammates better. And that’s good, as long as it doesn’t lead to your offense playing four on five.
Again, think about Green here. We’ve seen him tear defenses apart as a passer in 4-on-3 situations, but we’ve also seen him stall offenses when the shot isn’t falling and there isn’t much other role for him.
It’s pretty clear Barnes can’t shoot at all right now. There’s a clear hitch in his shot, and the results have been pretty terrible. He made only 11 of 40 3-pointers this past season, and both of those numbers are problematic. He’s not making 3s, not even willing to take themand 27.5% is rough.
@FSUHoops 95, Wake Forest 85 in overtime after Scottie Barnes’ last-second heroics.
— ACC Digital Network (@theACCDN) February 13, 2021
Barnes also made just 62% of his free throws, another troubling indicator. His shot needs to be completely reworked, and he’s likely going to have to find at least a passable shot to have any real chance of an offensive role.
There’s also some question about Barnes’s athleticism. He’s a bit stiff and massive thighs and a big thick body, displaying his strength but not really explosive or fast. He doesn’t have much burst.
Barnes can really get moving downhill in transition, but has a hard time beating the opponent to the hoop and tries to play through contact. He’s not a bad athlete, but not a great one either. The rebounding numbers are a bit lower than you’d hope for the same reason.
There’s no question Barnes is a terrific passer. He has excellent instincts and vision, and he can really make a lot of unique passing angles. He also has a nice handle for a player his size. He’s comfortable dribbling and playing with the ball in his hands, but the problem is figuring out how much those skills will matter.
Barnes might have been a point guard at Florida State, but he’ll play off the ball in the NBA. That makes his passing far less valuable, and it means he needs shooting gravity to extend the defense and keep it honest.
Especially as a point guard, Barnes was far too uninvolved with Florida State’s half-court offense. Once he gave the ball up, he often floated out near half court with no real role, like he was just waiting to get back and defend.
You gotta love a kid who’s excited to defend like that, but basketball is a two-way game. Barnes has real talent, but whoever drafts him will need to find a good offensive role for him.
For example, look at P.J. Tucker. It took him years to find a decent corner 3, and even still, he attempted just four shots in the last three Finals games combined. Most teams don’t have a 50-point Giannis Antetokounmpo or co-stars in Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday to absorb the extra offense that leaves behind.
So Where Does That Put Barnes?
Defense is always valuable. And all that defensive talent and versatility is what has Barnes shooting up draft boards. However, he’ll have to find an offensive niche to balance things out. Any team that drafts him will need to surround him with a lot of shooting and be patient as the franchise slowly brings him along.
Barnes is a winning player, the sort of guy who elevates his teammates and who will be even more valuable on a contending team. And that’s great. It’s just that he’s going to be drafted high in the lottery, which typically means going to a rebuilding team without much talent.
The Toronto Raptors (No. 4) or Golden State Warriors (No. 7) are rare exceptions to the rule, and Barnes makes a lot more sense there. He doesn’t seem as obvious a fit to the Orlando Magic (No. 5), where the team already has plenty of defense and could really use some scoring options.
It feels like Barnes does a lot of what Orlando already has, but all the rumors and books seem to agree that the Magic covet Barnes.
In the end, Barnes looks like a high-variance draft pick who could end up being boom or bust. His defense is too good to bust, but if he can’t find a shot or develop an offensive game, he might not be on the court long enough to defend.
On the other hand, if the offensive part of his skill set does blossom and gets added to already terrific defense, Barnes could end up one of the most valuable players in the draft.