It may have come as a surprise when the Toronto Raptors selected Scottie Barnes with the No. 4 overall pick, but it wasn't very hard to comprehend their reasoning.
As a 6-foot-9 point forward with a 7-foot-3 wingspan, Barnes has the body for the prototypical versatility that every NBA team is looking for these days. His playmaking ability is way above average for someone his size. He can defend multiple positions at a high level because of his strength, length and lateral quickness. His attitude, work ethic and vocal leadership was raved about - with magnetic energy that uplifts everyone around him.
It didn't take very long to see all of those things come to light, as the 20-year-old flashed every facet of his game in his Summer League debut as the Raptors defeated the New York Knicks.
It's just one exhibition game, but it's hard not to be encouraged by the display Barnes put on.
Going for 18 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, two steals and one block with just one turnover in 30 minutes of play, Barnes filled up the stat sheet by doing a little bit of everything for his team in a win.
Before dissecting his actual play, from the opening tip, Barnes was the loudest player on the court. You could even hear him coming through the television audio at times, leading the Raptors Summer League team like a seasoned veteran.
Scottie Barnes already being a vocal leader on the court! @Raptors | #WeTheNorth pic.twitter.com/xhwC5Ctzlf- NBA Canada (@NBACanada) August 8, 2021
That already checked one box of his pre-draft description, and the rest of his game followed suit.
Early in the second quarter, Barnes flashed his ability to suffocate guards on the perimeter, using every bit of his wingspan and physicality to put pressure on a Knicks' ball handler. He poked the ball away, dove on the floor to come up with the steal, then had the composure to find the right teammate to assist on a bucket in transition.
He spent the majority of the game defending former No. 8 overall pick Obi Toppin but was willingly switching out onto the perimeter against players like the shifty guard Immanuel Quickley, holding his own against any assignment he took on. That's the type of versatility that head coach Nick Nurse will fall in love with, allowing him to get creative with matchups and defensive schemes for Barnes.
Offensively, I was particularly impressed with how aggressive Barnes was in looking for his own shot. As a player who only attempted 8.6 shots per game in college, Barnes' passing ability would often trump his desire to score for himself. That was far from the case in his first NBA action, attacking the basket often, showing confidence in his shooting touch on pull-ups and floaters.
Barnes' first jump shot attempt actually resulted in an air-balled 3-pointer. It would have been very easy for him to get gun-shy after that, but instead, he kept firing. He knocked down a midrange jumper a few possessions later and once he got his first 3-ball to drop, he let out some emotion as that has been the area he's most looking to improve at the next level.
Barnes shot 7-for-18 (38.9%) from the field and 1-for-4 (25.0%) from 3 in his debut, but he missed a lot of bunnies around the rim, particularly in the first half, where the first-game jitters may have been most prevalent.
It's interesting to note that in his lone season at Florida State, 13 field goal attempts and four 3-point attempts were the most he ever took in a game. He surpassed that shot total in his first Summer League game, looking much more assertive on the offensive end.
He made a ton of hustle plays on the glass, showing his relentless energy with a game-high-tying five offensive rebounds. His passing still shone through, too, with a quick-witted, off-hand, three-quarter-court pass for an easy layup and an intelligent read to find a cutting teammate when he was doubled out of a post move.
After the win, Raptors' Summer League head coach Patrick Mutumbo had this to say on the No. 4 overall pick.
"He's talented, a lot of potential. I love his desire to win. I love his willingness to listen and also say 'my bad' or encourage his teammates. There's a lot of work to do with him but, man, it's exciting the potential he has."
Again, it's just one exhibition game, but it's hard not to like what we saw from Barnes in his first NBA action.
The views on this page do not necessarily represent the views of the NBA or its clubs.