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NBA Draft Scouting: Scottie Barnes

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The young forward out of Florida State is an impressive defender

Florida State v Michigan Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images


Weight - 6’9

Height - 227 lb

Wingspan - 7’2

Scottie Barnes’ draft stock has remained consistent all season long and his value stems from his defense. Barnes is a disruptive, intelligent defender who is capable of playing nearly every single role on the less glamorous end of the floor. In his time in Tallahassee, Barnes was deployed as a rim protector, back-line helper and as a lockdown wing. In all of these jobs, Barnes stifled the other team’s defense.

When these skills are paired with Barnes’ natural playmaking feel, he becomes an intriguing prospect for a team like the Thunder. Barnes was used as a point guard by Coach Leonard Hamilton for FSU and was productive as the lead playmaker. I do not believe that he will be a point guard in the NBA but Barnes’ skill-set translates nicely to a point forward role.

Barnes is a limited player at the moment when compared to someone like Jalen Suggs or Evan Mobley. Mobley and Suggs currently have a higher skill level and project to be the complete package for a team.

I feel that Barnes and Kuminga are very close in terms of ceiling. Both guys can be high-level starters on very good teams. The only real difference is how they can impact the game.

Kuminga brings value to a team through his inside scoring and tough defense. I would say that Scottie Barnes has the ability to be a Draymond Green-type player. His versatility and length will mean that Barnes can cover every single role defensively which is hugely beneficial for the team.

Andre Roberson’s elite defense provided Paul George with the courage to be aggressive and hunt in the passing lanes. It is entirely possible that the presence of Barnes as the help defender allows Luguentz Dort to be more proactive in forcing turnovers.

On offense, Barnes could be used in the same sort of hand-off actions that Al Horford and Steven Adams benefitted from in these last two years. Scottie is polished as a passer and I am relatively confident in his ability to find teammates in the half-court.

Moreover, we have seen Shai Gilgeous-Alexander attract more and more attention from the defense. Last season, defenses would trap and double Shai fairly regularly. Shai was able to navigate through the double most of the time but it was never easy and the Thunder often wasted precious seconds off the clock.

Stephen Curry faces the same sort of pressure whenever he crosses half-court but Curry has a relief passing option in Draymond Green who can execute in 4v3 situations. Barnes could benefit in the same way; Scottie Barnes is a capable ball-handler and will relish the opportunity to attack a weakened defense.

The Thunder will only face competition from the Cleveland Cavaliers if they plan to take Barnes with the sixth pick. Cleveland already have ‘SexLand’ and Jarrett Allen. The Cavaliers took Isaac Okoro but they need another forward to add to their new core.

Scottie Barnes played well all season long but his best performance of the season came against Clemson in late December. The Clemson Tigers finished fifth in the Atlantic Coast Conference and were a very good team. Barnes had 14 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and a block as he impacted every aspect of the game.

Barnes’ greatest strength is his defense. We often see rangy athletes projected to go highly in the Draft on the assumption that their length will eventually lead to the player being a good defender. Barnes is different to that mould, his awareness and intelligence is very impressive.

Barnes is very good at keeping his eyes on the court and reacting to the opposing team’s offense. Even when Barnes is guarding his assignment, he is always looking over his shoulder and working out how the offense is going to develop. Scottie had an awareness of the floor that is unusual for the majority of young players.

When his intelligence is combined with his physical attributes, it is evident that Barnes will be an impactful player in the NBA. It is rare to find players who can legitimately guard all five positions but it is even rarer to find players who are comfortable filling every single role on defense.

The Thunder will need players who can lock down big wings, play excellent help defense and disrupt the other’s team offense. Barnes can do all of these things and is something of a skeleton key on defense. This is the reason why the comparison to Draymond Green feels quite apt.

Green’s value is not always apparent in the regular season when teams run a set offensive system with no real consideration to their nightly opponents. This all changes when the playoffs roll around and teams start to hunt mismatches. With a guy like Green or PJ Tucker, these weak points are masked and mismatches are hidden. Barnes could be that sort of player for the Thunder.

The Green comparison is even more appropriate when you consider Scottie’s ability to create plays for the other team. Although Stephen Curry plays the point, Draymond Green is the primary playmaker for the Golden State Warriors. Whenever his teammates get him the ball, Green usually finds the right pass and the Warriors get a good look.

Barnes handled the ball at Florida State and was effectively a 6’9 point guard. Those possessions solidified and enhanced Scottie’s playmaking instincts. It was not uncommon to see Barnes to drag a rebound down and bring the ball forward while his teammates scattered across the court in anticipation of the pass.

The other thing which was surprising was Scottie’s feel for playmaking. Florida State often ran an action with a baseline cutter whenever Barnes operated from the mid-post. He was very good at dropping the ball into the path of his teammate for the easy layup. His passes were often well-timed and accurate; Barnes rarely had issues shifting the ball into small windows.

Scottie will not see as much of the ball with the Thunder. Coach Mark Daigneault runs a motion offense and everybody chips in. He will get plenty of touches and I feel that he would be highly effective as a point forward who plays off Shai’s gravity. Hand-off actions would be a great way to use Barnes’ passing.

Barnes has one glaringly obvious weakness; his shooting. Barnes shot 27.5% from downtown last season and did not trouble the defense at all. While his inside scoring does mean that he is a threat on offense, Barnes’ jumper is very concerning. I do not like how mechanical his shot looks; he just does not look comfortable whenever he shoots the ball.

Barnes is a diligent worker and I expect his shot to improve to some degree but it is incredibly unlikely that Scottie Barnes becomes a legitimate threat to scorch the nets. For Barnes to reach his full potential as a player, he needs to get to a percentage where the defense has to play him honestly and cannot just sag off.

His inside scoring and playmaking will be severely constrained if the opposing defense packs the paint and dares him to shoot. Those clogged driving lanes will also harm Shai’s ability to scythe a path to the rim for an easy layup.

Despite these concerns, Scottie Barnes is a well-rounded, versatile player who could be very useful for the Thunder. He may not ever be an All-Star but I feel pretty comfortable in saying that Barnes will be a future All-Defense guy who makes winning contributions when it matters most.