Raptors Rumors: Scottie Barnes Drawing 'Real' Draft Interest amid Jalen Suggs Links

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVJuly 22, 2021

Florida State guard Scottie Barnes (4) drives past Michigan guard Chaundee Brown, rear, during the first half of a Sweet 16 game in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Sunday, March 28, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
AP Photo/Darron Cummings

While many see a tier of four players at the top of the 2021 NBA draft, the Toronto Raptors could still surprise with the No. 4 pick.

The expectation is Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green, Evan Mobley and Jalen Suggs comprise that tier, with Kevin O'Connor of The Ringer projecting the Raptors to select Suggs in his latest mock draft. However, it is far from a lock.

"The Raptors recently met with Florida State forward Scottie Barnes, and executives around the league say their interest in him is real," O'Connor wrote.

Barnes averaged 10.3 points, 4.1 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game as a freshman last season.

Even with his modest numbers, Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman noted the former Seminole has intrigued scouts as his "playmaking, finishing and defense create a different type of star potential."

Wasserman listed Barnes as the No. 5 player in the class.

The 6'8" forward could be the type of raw, high-upside prospect who develops into an impact player, similar to Toronto contributors Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby. Both players had slow starts to their careers but are now entrenched starters, with Siakam earning an All-Star selection in 2019-20.

On the other hand, the Raptors could go with a safer option in Suggs, who was a star in college while leading Gonzaga to the national championship game. The point guard could replace impending free agent Kyle Lowry with his two-way ability and high basketball IQ.

The decision could come down to what Toronto thinks of its window of contention. The team is just two years removed from a championship but finished last year 27-45.

Suggs could help turn things around after a lost season, while Barnes could be better for a long-term rebuild.