Photo Credit: Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images
Toronto Raptors’ rookie forward Scottie Barnes is looking like a perfect fit for the city of Toronto, and the NBA season hasn’t even started yet. Barnes has been embracing the Raptors franchise to its full extent ever since he was drafted fourth overall in the 2021 NBA Draft.
Embracing the Culture
Barnes posted his first written piece with The Players’ Tribune on his Twitter account on Friday, which detailed his excitement to represent the Raptors and the city of Toronto with his NBA debut approaching.
Some of Barnes’ first experiences in the city included touring the CN Tower, visiting Drake’s house, working out at the OVO Athletic Centre and even eating some Jamaican food at The Real Jerk Restaurant. It sounds like Barnes is having a blast in his new home city, and he also mentioned that he had an instant connection with Masai Ujiri and the entire franchise because they are ‘all about winning’.
“Toronto, it feels like we’re about to do something special together,” wrote Barnes.
Barnes also had the honour of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at a Blue Jays game on Friday with several other Raptors players in attendance.
The 20 year old out of Florida State hasn’t played a game in the NBA yet but you can see why his infectious and playful personality has aleardy made him a fan favourite.
Infectious, winning mentality
Barnes spent just one season at Florida State before declaring for the NBA draft, making a name for himself as an extremely versatile player on both ends of the floor. Defensively, Barnes has the ability to guard against any position on the floor and offensively he’s talented enough to play point guard and make plays for his teammates at 6-feet-8 inches tall.
His stats at Florida State weren’t jaw dropping, but it’s his versatility, intangible abilities and his winning mentality that sold Masai Ujiri, Nick Nurse and the Raptors on Barnes with the fourth pick.
Is he NBA ready?
Raptors Insider Season Stat Prediction
Barnes’ impressive athletic ability and strong work ethic lead to great success in the high school and college game, but is he ready to compete in the big leagues? The biggest question mark concerning Barnes’ game at the NBA level is his shooting touch. His shooting percentages from the three-point line and free throw line leave a lot to be desired.
There’s no doubt that shooting has become one of the most important skill sets in the NBA these days and Barnes is gonna have to put in the time and work to improve his shooting ability if he wants to be an elite player in the NBA.
All that being said, Barnes is exceptional in almost all the other aspects of the game. During the NBA Summer League, Barnes regularly showcased his exceptional defense and playmaking ability.
The Raptors posted a record of 4-1 during the summer league and there is no doubt that Barnes was one of the main catalysts and leaders of the team during those games.
At times, Barnes showed he may already be capable of scoring at a high level, stepping out to the three-point line, and hitting shots off the dribble. The most encouraging sign from Barnes during the summer league was the confidence he played with. Even when it came to the areas of his game that need some work, Barnes was not afraid to get his shots up and work on his game, and that’s what summer league is for.
At the end of the day, the summer league is still not the NBA regular season and all of us will be eager to see how Barnes plays against some of the league’s best when the Raptors’ season finally tips off on October 20th.
The one time we have got to see Barnes play against some high-caliber NBA talent was during an open run in Miami this summer. The clip below shows Barnes playing some tenacious defense against Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell. Defense will likely be Barnes’ greatest strength from day one in the NBA and it’s not surprising to see him play lockdown defense in this run even against the likes of Donovan Mitchell.
Many people were surprised when the Raptors selected Barnes with the fourth pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, but it’s becoming more and more clear why Ujiri and the Raptors selected him so quickly. Barnes has some work to do before he can become an elite player in the NBA, but it’s clear that he has a winning mentality and the work ethic to get better every day. Most importantly, Barnes is passionate, excited, and eager to play for the city of Toronto, a place he has been quick to call his home.