Only 22, Toronto Raptors forward Scottie Barnes is one of the most intriguing up-and-coming players in the NBA. The 2022 Rookie of the Year is entering his third season with the Raptors. Barnes was selected with the fourth overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft out of Florida State.
So far, he’s been an excellent pick for Toronto. At six-foot-nine and 227 pounds, Barnes is another lengthy wing that bolsters the Raptors’ team identity of having versatile players, headlined by Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby.
Top 25 NBA Players Under 25: No. 13 – Scottie Barnes
Barnes’ Unique Skill Set
His unique skill set as a point-forward hybrid separates Barnes from the rest of the league. As a result, he comes in at No. 13 in this year’s ranking. Barnes averaged 4.8 assists last season. He also took on an increased role as an offensive initiator for Toronto, improving his assist average from 3.5 in his rookie year. Barnes’ role as a playmaker could expand even further this season following the departure of Fred VanVleet, who signed with the Houston Rockets in free agency this offseason.
While Barnes’ assist average increased, he didn’t quite take the jump in other aspects of his game as many expected in year two. For reference, in Barnes’ rookie season, he averaged 15.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.1 steals, and 0.7 blocks on 49/30/74 shooting splits. Meanwhile, Barnes had a similar stat line last season, averaging 15.3 points, 6.6 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.1 steals, and 0.8 blocks on 46/28/77 shooting splits.
The Raptors forward took the league by storm in 2021. From day one, he was a primary decision-maker in Toronto’s offense. While Barnes didn’t take a significant leap last season, he’s still an incredible player that impacts winning on both ends of the court. Barnes averages nearly a steal and a block per game. He’s a sound defender both on the ball and in help situations. His high basketball IQ and ability to anticipate plays make him an exceptional talent. Offensively, this is a considerable factor in Barnes’ high assist total for a forward, in addition to his ballhandling, agility, and frame. Defensively, Barnes uses his length and quick hands well. He should only continue to improve his versatile strengths.
The main area for Barnes to improve is his shooting. He’s already a solid scorer, as evidenced by his 15.3 points per game average the past two seasons. However, this is primarily due to Barnes’ athleticism, basketball IQ, frame, and ballhandling ability. Because of these factors, he’s a unique talent. However, Barnes’ All-Star-level potential won’t be fully reached unless he becomes a more consistent shooter. Barnes is often left open from three and dared to shoot as defenses sag off. This also impacts Barnes’ strength as a passer as the lanes become more limited. Developing into a shooting threat should help Barnes and the Raptors take that next step.
Regardless, Barnes is already a special talent. The Raptors found their point forward of the future.