Cavs 2021 NBA Draft: Scottie Barnes’ playmaking is very intriguing

Florida State Seminoles playmaker Scottie Barnes handles the ball. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Florida State Seminoles playmaker Scottie Barnes handles the ball. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

Currently, the Cleveland Cavaliers are projected to pick fifth in the 2021 NBA Draft, per Tankathon.

Now, one has to take those odds with a grain of salt with the league’s still fairly new lottery odds, and as we’ve seen the past two seasons, we’re not completely certain as to where Cleveland will draft come July 29. The Cavs, for context, were tied for having the best odds at landing the first overall pick in the past two drafts, and landed at fifth.

So we’ll have to see what shakes out come the league’s draft lottery, set to commence on June 22.

In relation to some names that come to mind at/near the top of the draft, Cade Cunningham looks to likely be a near-consensus #1 pick. From there, the likes of the electric Jalen Green, big Evan Mobley, Jalen Suggs and Jonathan Kuminga, who could be a big-time combo 3/4 in coming years, would appear to round out the top 5.

That’s not guaranteed, albeit it does seem pretty likely that that group, in no particular order, could very well be the top five of the 2021 NBA Draft, though.

But for the Cavs, say they do end up landing at #5, or at #6 perhaps, a prospect that I believe could be very impactful is Scottie Barnes out of Florida State.

In his lone collegiate season at FSU, Barnes, in often a bench role with how the Seminoles utilized a very deep rotation, had 10.3 points, 4.1 assists and 4.0 rebounds per outing. Plus, defensively, he made his presence in a big way, in particular, and projects to be uber-versatile at the next level. In the team and on-ball sense, he had 1.5 steals per game in 2020-21.

To me, while absolutely not discounting his defensive abilities, of which could be elite at the next level, one strength of his I’d love for the Cavaliers, and that’s his playmaking.

Barnes’ playmaking is very intriguing, and could help the Cavs from the jump.

Barnes played as often a lead playmaker for FSU, and while he projects as more so a 3/4 at 6-foot-9, 227 pounds, his passing abilities/feel in pick-and-roll operation are a key seller.

Barnes, for such a young player, hits passes over-the-top to rollers well, which could make sequences with him and Jarrett Allen interesting, to also give Darius Garland a breather in stretches in-game. The same could potentially go with Isaiah Hartenstein here and there, too, and/or with Larry Nance Jr. at times.

Plus, in sequences with Barnes and perhaps the likes of Kevin Love, if he’s still around, or Dean Wade, that could be a nice pick-and-pop combination for Cleveland, with Wade proving himself as a quality catch-and-shoot guy this season.

With Barnes, in a general sense, even for a 6-foot-9 player, he has a solid handle, and with his ability to finish inside both from gliding past defenders and with authority with dunks, that threat should still aid others with his passing feel.

As we alluded to, Barnes can make plays out of the PnR, which could lead to easy baskets inside for other Cavs.

Along with that, with his ability to hit skip feeds on-time and right on-target, that could help shooters such as Darius Garland and Collin Sexton, among others, such as Dylan Windler. Maybe in some lineups, if Isaac Okoro improves on his catch-and-shoots, that could aid him as well; we’ll see regarding that.

Point being, Barnes has great vision, and could fill in as a key secondary playmaker in a variety of lineups next season/looking onward for Cleveland, if they were to select him in the 2021 NBA Draft, or in bench lineups, could fill in as a de facto 1. Albeit that sort of thing could end up being a fairly regular role for Cedi Osman, as an aside.

Circling back though, with Barnes’ potential selection by Cleveland, he’d be an intriguing fit, and while we’d have to see if Okoro were to be moved to a bench role as the year progresses, a jumbo playmaker for stretches either way at that 6-8 spot could be very impactful. The defense again could be crucial regarding him/potentially the Cavaliers, who again are currently projected to pick fifth currently and I’d realistically be fine with them taking Barnes there, too.

Now, Barnes, who hit only 27.5 percent of his three-point attempts at FSU, and 62.5 percent of his free throws, has a ways to go as a shooter. That’s why I wouldn’t expect to be a day 1 starter, and we’d have to see on the long-term starting viability with him and Okoro too, and that’d be a big if.

But Barnes’ size, defensive chops and passing and driving abilities lead to plenty of intrigue with him. He could also enable Sexton and/or Garland to have more catch-and-shoot/scoring opportunities on the perimeter/perhaps as cutters for stretches, too.

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So, keep an eye out for the 19-year-old likely combo forward potentially in the 5-7 range, especially, for the Cavaliers in the 2021 NBA Draft.