“Situational Analysis” is a series of articles that seeks to examine the circumstances that most often influence an NBA prospect’s success. Each player will be scored on a scale from 1-10 in four different categories: NBA-specific skill(s), fatal flaw(s), collegiate/overseas/pre-NBA environment, and ideal NBA ecosystem.

Scottie Barnes is a soon-to-be 20-year-old forward from West Palm Beach, Florida, who averaged 10.1 points, 4 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game in his freshman season for the Florida State Seminoles. He is expected to be selected in the top half of the lottery and as high as No. 4 overall. NBADraft.net currently has him projected at No. 6.

NBA-Specific Skills

My two-word scouting report on Scottie Barnes if I relied only on YouTube highlights: “Holy crap.”

Barnes is the total package. At 6-9 and nearly 230 pounds, Barnes is a kid in a full-grown man’s body, complete with NBA-level strength and athleticism. He’s quicker laterally than many guards and much more fluid than the bigger, bulkier wings who match Barnes’ physical dimensions. Barnes looks like he was born to play basketball.

What element that separates Barnes from other physical marvels? The passing. Again: Holy crap.

In only 25 minutes of action per game, Barnes averaged four assists and saw the game in a way that few forwards see it. It’s easy to envision Barnes as a high-post offensive hub and a secondary playmaker alongside a ball-dominant guard. Imagine Draymond Green’s mind inside Stromile Swift’s body.

Does anything else separate Barnes from other physical marvels? Glad you asked. He never takes plays off. We’ve all seen players with all the tools simply coast on natural talent. Barnes never coasts. He plays at full tilt, but rarely out of control. He posted a tremendous 2.05 assist/turnover ratio and kept himself out of foul trouble.

On a scale from 1-10, Barnes’ upside and playmaking rate at a 9.5.

Fatal Flaws

Based on the previous paragraphs, it seems like we should enshrine Barnes in the Hall of Fame today, doesn’t it?

Let’s pump the brakes just a bit. Barnes is still very raw and struggles mightily with his shot.

He showed terrific efficiency inside the arc, but Barnes connected on only 27.5% of his attempts from 3 and shot only 62% from the line as a freshman. It reminds me a little bit of Antoine Walker, who went from a perennial All-Star as a playmaking point forward to out of the NBA when his shooting/FT numbers plummeted.

The rebounding numbers aren’t what you would hope from a player with his size/strength/length, but the always-deep Seminoles had several strong rebounders, so there weren’t as many boards to go around.

The real concern here is the shooting stroke. The passing/playmaking will suffer if teams simply sag off Barnes and dare him to shoot.

On a scale from 1 (not a concern) to 10 (serious hindrance), Barnes’ lack of an outside shot rates at a 9.

Pre-NBA Setting

Barnes smashed everyone in high school.

Before he jumped to that Montverde super team, Barnes led NSU University School in Fort Lauderdale to back-to-back state titles – the school’s first 5A titles, by the way.

At Montverde, Barnes successfully made the shift from do-everything MVP to fill-the-gaps glue guy alongside Cade Cunningham, Moses Moody and Day’Ron Sharpe. It’s hard to overstate just how dominant Montverde was two years ago.

He left high school as a consensus top 10 prospect and ended up at Florida State – a good fit for Barnes, as he reminds me a little bit of Patrick Williams. The Seminoles finished 16-6 in the regular season before falling to a very good Michigan squad in the Sweet 16.

On a scale from 1-10, Barnes’ pre-NBA career rates at a 9.

Ideal NBA Ecosystem

NBADraft.net currently has Barnes heading to Oklahoma City. If Sam Presti hangs onto this pick, I love the fit here.

The Thunder are clearly building from scratch, but I like the idea of Barnes teaming up with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – two odd, unorthodox playmakers with tremendous positional versatility.

I also love the idea of Barnes ending up at Draymond Green Academy with the Golden State Warriors. I honestly can’t imagine a better mentor for Barnes.

There is a chance that Barnes rises all the way to No. 4 with the Toronto Raptors, who could team him with Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby for a fearsome wing lineup. It may also give the Raptors a bit of flexibility should they decide to deal Siakam this summer.

On a scale of 1-10, Barnes’ need for the right situation rates at an 8.5. His upside is out of this world, but his game needs a serious amount of polish before he realizes his potential.


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