Toronto Raptors take Scottie Barnes over Jalen Suggs in 2021 NBA Draft

Scottie Barnes (Florida State) reacts after being selected as the number four overall pick by the Toronto Raptors. Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Scottie Barnes (Florida State) reacts after being selected as the number four overall pick by the Toronto Raptors. Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

In what came as a surprise to some, the Toronto Raptors selected Scottie Barnes with the fourth overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft instead of Jalen Suggs.

Moving up to fourth overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, the Toronto Raptors were provided with a great opportunity to add a franchise cornerstone player and ultimately decided that Scottie Barnes was the player they liked the most.

For weeks, many were expecting the Raptors to take Jalen Suggs out of Gonzaga but thanks to some spoiling from Shams Charania of The Athletic, that was not going to happen. Instead, Toronto will bet on the potential Scottie Barnes brings and hope he can continue to develop.

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Before we talk about the overwhelming number of people voicing their disappointment with the pick (which they have their right to do). Let’s look at what the Raptors are getting in Barnes and how he fits the team.

The last time Toronto picked this high in the draft was back in 2006 when they took Andrea Bargnani with the first overall pick. Safe to say, Raptors fans shouldn’t worry about Barnes following down the same path.

When you read about Barnes the obvious thing that jumps off the page are his athletic traits that jump right off the page. He’s 6-foot-9 but has a 7-foot-3 wingspan and has the footwork to be a versatile defender. Sound familiar?

It’s no secret he fits the mould of the Raptors culture and wants to be a breakout superstar despite many questioning his offensive game.

One obvious flaw that many are pointing out is that Barnes isn’t a natural scorer and needs to work on his shot. As Sportsnet’s Steven Loung wrote prior to the draft, the 19-year-old has great potential as a playmaker but if he wants to take the next step he has to work on his free throws and jump shot.

Loung also mentions that with Barnes’ work ethic, he can make those improvements to his game but it will require great coaching and strong commitment. Kyle Irving of explains that Barnes is pretty much a point guard in a power forward’s body, brings a physical presence around the basket and had received comparisons to Draymond Green.

Disappointment from Toronto Raptors fans is understandable after passing on Jalen Suggs

It’s hard to blame Raptors fans for their initial reaction to drafting Scottie Barnes considering many were when there was the anticipation of Jalen Suggs being the pick.

Granted, Barnes and Suggs were top-10 rated prospects so it’s not like Toronto went way off the board to take Barnes. There are certainly similarities between both players but many believe Suggs has superstar potential and already has more offensive upside over Barnes but the newest Raptor believes people are underestimating him.

"“People (don’t) see that because of different things I did this year. Didn’t shoot the ball as well as I could,” Barnes said via Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun. “My offensive game is good. They’ll see I would say.”"

When you look at Suggs though, he has received comparisons to Jamal Murray and his toughness would have been a nice transition for the Raptors with Kyle Lowry expected to leave in free agency. He even mentioned heading into the draft that whoever passes on him will regret it.

"“I will say the ones that do pass up on me and take another prospect, you know, it’ll come back, it’d be to their detriment,” Suggs told reporters before the draft. “You can look at my track record and what I’ve done and where I’ve been, you know, it’s always win at a high level, at the highest level.”"

It seemed like Suggs was eyeing the Raptors as his likely destination saying how impressed he was with players like Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, and Fred VanVleet have developed into good NBA players. This just seemed like a perfect match for most but then you look at everything draft experts say about Barnes and it makes sense why they went in that direction.

Whether or not Masai Ujiri, Bobby Webster and the rest of the team made the right choice can’t be determined right now. They haven’t given us many reasons to doubt their ability to find talent in the draft and develop them into NBA players, it’s whether they can get the most out of Barnes that has some concerned in the end.

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What do you think about the decision to draft Barnes? Should the Raptors have selected Suggs instead? Let us know in the comments below.