Cavs 2021 NBA Draft: Scottie Barnes’ potential fit with CLE

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) /

I always love talking about the importance of playing sound defense with basketball players when I’m coaching. It’s what I believe is the most important part of basketball. If you play defense well then you and your team are going to win ball games.

If you’re looking for defense in this year’s upcoming NBA Draft on July 29, then look no further then Scottie Barnes, the 6-foot-9 forward coming out of Florida State. This kid plays defense, and it’s the primary reason, at this point, that a team like the Cleveland Cavaliers could very well select this unique big man who can guard any position on the floor, from the opposing point guard to the forward.

Watching Barnes on tape, you can realize pretty quickly, you have a lengthy but yet quick defender who really loves playing defense. And I love that!

Barnes can guard any spot on the floor. He guarded the point guard in many games this past season. That mismatch was one Barnes relished, as many times his quickness and ability to get back in his defensive stance to keep the guard in front of him was one that created problems for his opponents.

For a big man to have this lateral quickness and good body control on defense is a real strength of Barnes and it may be an important factor in the Cavs decision come the 2021 NBA Draft.

The Cavs should be strongly considering Barnes in the upcoming draft, given his all-around defensive capabilities, in particular.

The Cavs are obviously going to have to improve next season on the defensive side of the ball. Barnes, in my mind makes a lot of sense, to bring into the fold. They’re aren’t a ton of big men out there that can play so well on defense, especially at this early point in an NBA career.

Offensively, Barnes brings some of that same versatility that he does on defense to his offensive skills. He would bring the ball down the court at the point guard spot often when he played at Florida State last season. He wasn’t an offensive star, only averaging a little over 10 points a game, but he did average 4 assists so he has the passing ability to involve his teammates a lot.

His shooting isn’t great, only shooting 50 percent from the floor and 28 percent from three-point land. He only took 195 total shots last season, which isn’t a lot over a 24-game Florida State season. There were several games last season where Barnes didn’t even attempt ten shots in a game, and playing mostly off the bench was the reasoning.

Obviously, Barnes’ lack of offensively stacked numbers is a bit of a concern moving forward and going into the NBA where the margin of error is even more pronounced.

But his basketball IQ and understanding game situations are outstanding, nonetheless. He is very good with the ball in transition. His ability to handle the ball in the open floor is very impressive. His reads on a pick-and-roll and his abilities to pass or drive in those situations is very good too. That part of his game will only get better in time.

The other area that always stands out when you watch Barnes, is the energy and enthusiasm for the sport he loves to play. You can’t make that up. It’s a quality that will lead him to an outstanding playing career in the NBA.

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Barnes hustles on both ends of the floor and gets after the loose ball, and can visibly be seen encouraging his teammates and communicating with them on and off the court. That kind of motivation and energy can be contagious to a team.

If the Cavs would draft Barnes, the different roles he could play for this team would really be intriguing. Barnes was comfortable bringing the ball up at the point guard spot. Would you dare allow that to be if he were a Cavalier? I remember, a guy named LeBron James, who once played in Cleveland who routinely ran the offense from the point.

I see Barnes though coming in more at the 2, 3 or 4 spot immediately if the Cavs were to draft him. A projected starting lineup might even look like this:

Darius Garland, Collin Sexton, Scottie Barnes, Kevin Love and Jarrett Allen.

I’m interested to see how the Cavs handle the draft in July and if players like a Collin Sexton would be involved in any possible trades. Two NBA people did reportedly suggest that Cleveland could potentially consider moving Sexton at some point, for context, as KJG’s Elijah Hamilton pointed out. And is Kevin Love a moving piece too for the Cavs? Time will tell.

But regardless, if Barnes is available for the Cavs to draft, I’d pick him up in a heartbeat. There aren’t too many other talented players in the top end of the draft that have the versatility this kid Barnes has. And I love defense and the Cavs should too if they want to start winning; so Barnes should be strongly considered by them in the 2021 NBA Draft.

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Moreover, Barnes would automatically make the Cavs a better team defensively and like I’ve said many times to my own basketball teams, defense wins games.