Coming into the pre-draft process, most NBA analysts and experts thought there was a clear-cut Top 5 of 2021 Draft prospects.
Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham, USC’s Evan Mobley, Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs and two G-League players, Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga, were considered to be those top five prospects.
Well, another name could very well sneak in there by the time the selections are actually made on July 29.
Florida State’s Scottie Barnes has reportedly become one of the fastest risers during the pre-draft workouts and could very well work himself into a top-five selection.
***Don’t miss out on our great FSU Football and Recruiting coverage. Get your 30-day FREE trial!***
“Barnes was the guy I kind of had just a little bit below (the other five) before,” NBA Draft expert Chad Ford said recently on the Ryen Russilo podcast. “But I don’t believe he’s below anymore. In fact, I think he’s probably ahead of Suggs and Kuminga on most draft boards.”
Ford said Barnes’ versatility on the defensive end, where he can legitimately guard all five positions, makes him a surefire lottery selection and perhaps even a too-five pick.
It doesn’t hurt matters that he plays with so much passion and, by all accounts, was a terrific teammate during his time at Florida State, where he helped lead the Seminoles to the Sweet 16 as a freshman this past season.
“Talking to folks that are close to that program, everybody loved Scottie Barnes,” Ford said. “Also talking to teams that did interviews in Chicago at the combine, an absolute magnetic personality. Always happy. Always joyful. Teammates loved him. Coaches loved him. A natural leader that way. People say personality wise, think Magic Johnson.
“That is the sort of personality he brings to the table. So, that’s a plus. You worry a little bit, because a lot of times you just wanted him to take over games. … Scottie Barnes didn’t always do that. But what I was told is he’s capable of doing that.”
Ford said his biggest worry when it comes to Barnes, and it’s a concern that’s mentioned in every single one of his mock draft reports, is his ability to shoot.
Barnes was just 11 of 40 (28 percent) from 3-point range in his one year at FSU and was only a 62.1 percent free-throw shooter, though that number improved significantly the final month of the season.
He only started seven games for the Seminoles, but still managed to average 10.2 points, 4.1 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game on his way to being named ACC Freshman of the Year.
Barnes was also the third straight Seminole to win the ACC Sixth Man of the Year Award, joining Mfiondu Kabengele and Patrick Williams. And like Williams, he has a chance to be one of the top five picks in the draft despite mainly coming off the bench for FSU.
Barnes’ unselfishness is another trait that has teams in the top half of the lottery thinking long and hard about selecting the 6-foot-9 guard.
This is the scouting report from The Ringer’s mock draft:
Incredible physical profile, with long arms and a huge, bulky frame mixed with quickness. Most importantly, he plays with a relentless defensive mindset. At worst, he’ll be a good defender; at best, he will win defensive accolades throughout his career.
Florida State used him all over defensively: guarding lead ball handlers, battling on the post against bigs, and playing the back line of the zone as a rim protector.
Plays point guard in college. A willing facilitator who pushes the ball ahead with long outlets and makes the extra pass in the half court.
Could be a playmaking threat out of dribble handoffs and the short roll. Solid open-floor playmaker who can throw darts across the court to corner 3-point shooters or hit the roller with a lob.
Takes big, long strides to the rim and barrels through defenders on drives while holding the ball in one hand to extend for layups. A freight train in the open floor who could become a major mismatch problem in the half court if he keeps advancing offensively.
Active offensive rebounder.
Competitor. Hustler. Crashes the offensive glass, races up the floor in transition, and sprints back on defense.
The Ringer has Barnes going No. 6 in the draft, while NBADraft.net has Barnes as the No. 5 pick going to Orlando.
Here’s the scouting report from NBADraft.net: Versatility and power are the two greatest strengths of Barnes … He stands at 6’9 and attacks the rim with strength and speed like few others can at his size. He is also listed at 227 pounds, so he does not get pushed off his path very easily … He handles the ball well and can run the point as well as post up down low against bigger defenders … great passer for a combo forward … His versatility on offense is consistent with his versatility on the other end … Barnes has the lateral quickness and strength to guard every position on the court and is able to take the ball away with over two steals per 40 minutes … Plays with great energy on both ends fo the floor … He is a modern era point forward who sees the floor well and elevates above traditional big men with his size, length, and explosiveness.
The negatives focus mainly on Barnes’ ability to shoot. As mentioned earlier, he struggled behind the arc and at the free-throw line in his only year in college, and if he can’t develop a passable jump shot in the league, it will severely limit his effectiveness as a perimeter player.
But every single player in the draft has question marks. Even the ones at the very top.
Barnes’ plusses, at least for now, seem to be far outweighing his minuses, as his name continues to be talked about as a potential top pick.
And he apparently was quite impressive at the draft combine in Chicago — on and off the court.