Cavs 2021 NBA Draft: Pros and cons of potential Scottie Barnes selection

Florida State Seminoles guard Scottie Barnes goes for a loose ball. (Photo by Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports)
Florida State Seminoles guard Scottie Barnes goes for a loose ball. (Photo by Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Cleveland Cavaliers are projected to have a top six pick in the upcoming draft on July 29 and 6-foot-9 forward Scottie Barnes could be a potential suitor for the Cavs. The playmaking forward out of Florida State started just seven of his 24 games in college, but he made a huge impact when playing for the Seminoles.

Barnes has the ideal build to be a great wing in the NBA, standing at 6-foot-9 with a 7-foot-2 wingspan. Barnes was arguably the main playmaker for Florida State which is unusual for his size but something that sets him apart from others in the upcoming 2021 NBA Draft class.

He showed in college that he has the ability to score while also guarding the best scorer on the opposing team, and with the Cavaliers already having a player that has that ability in Isaac Okoro, adding Scottie Barnes could bring a lot of versatility on defense.

Barnes does have his strengths and weaknesses, though, which we’ll get into here regarding him as a potential Cavs draft selection.

Along those lines, we’ll first touch on the positives.

The pros of the Cavs potentially drafting Barnes

Something special about Barnes is that he has a guard mentality; the way he passes the ball and sets up his teammates is very impressive for his size and something people are not necessarily accustomed to seeing in the NBA often. He has a high basketball IQ at such a young age which could make him stand out to teams in the draft process.

In 24 games at Florida State, he averaged 10.3 points on 50.3 percent shooting while also having 4.1 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game. Along with that, he was very active on the defensive end, racking up 1.5 steals and 0.5 blocks per outing.

He brings a lot of energy every time he steps on the court on both sides of the ball. His ability to get out in transition is something that sets him apart and is vital to his game as he is fantastic on the break. Barnes is explosive when attacking the rim in transition and not many want to get in front of him at full speed.

His speed, length, ball handling, explosiveness and passing ability are attributes that really jump out, especially in the transition game.

And to the prior point, Barnes is arguably the best perimeter defender in the class and it wouldn’t be a stretch to say he is the best all-around defender along with USC big man, Evan Mobley, who the Cavs could also look at on draft night. You can view more on my thoughts on him here.

Circling back to Barnes, though, with a 7-foot-2 wingspan, great footwork, excellent mobility and a high IQ, the Florida State product has all the tools to be a lockdown defender at the next level and he showcased his terrific defensive ability in his time as a Seminole. That could make a difference for players such as Collin Sexton, Darius Garland and others, too.

Furthermore, Barnes is a guy who can virtually guard every position on the floor and can match up very well when doing so with great strength and lateral quickness. With such a long reach, players have had a really hard time getting past Barnes as he is a huge pest when guarding on the ball.

Objectively, Barnes does have his weaknesses, too, however, and we’ll get into those next regarding him as a potential 2021 NBA Draft target for the Cavaliers.

The cons of the Cavs potentially drafting Barnes

The knock on Barnes in halfcourt offense is he is not a great shooter and struggles to score at times with a set defense.

Although he shot over 50.0 percent from the field, his three-point percentage was a concerning, 27.5 percent. And the Cavaliers, being ranked near the bottom of the league shooting from deep, need shooting bad and that is the thing that Barnes does not bring to the table currently.

He has shown the ability to shoot from deep but was really never able to do it on a consistent basis. Free throw shooting is another struggle of his as he shot 62.1 percent in his lone season for the Seminoles.

His form doesn’t seem to be the problem it’s just the matter of knocking down the shots and that’s something that can be developed further, and would make him an even bigger threat on the offensive end.

Even if he is not able to develop a decent jump shot for a few seasons, he can still be a guy that will hold it down on the defensive end and has the raw talent to get buckets with the ball as well.

What Barnes would bring to the Cavs

With all the tools to be a great player at the next level, the Cavaliers could definitely use a guy like Barnes, who is also a pretty solid 227 pounds, even at only 19 currently, on the roster.

He will bring energy, defense, offensive tempo and playmaking, which could help out Garland, for one, and if his jump shot progresses, Barnes could be a huge threat offensively. That sort of thing would aid Sexton, for instance, too.

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Moreover, if Cleveland does not get lucky in the lottery, and doesn’t end up with a top three pick, Barnes could potentially be the selection for them as brings one of the highest ceilings still in the 2021 NBA Draft.