Scottie Barnes believes he can be one of the best players in the NBA — and he’s planning to become that icon by working hard for the Toronto Raptors.
The Raptors selected Barnes, a 19-year-old Florida State forward, with the No. 4 pick in the draft Thursday.
Barnes said he had great meetings with Toronto heading into the draft, but didn’t get a sense the team would choose him.
“Once they called my name, it was really just a huge rush of excitement,” he told reporters on a video call. “When I went on my workout day, I really had a good workout, being able to talk to people on their staff, really develop a relationship.”
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The six-foot-nine, 225-pound native of West Palm Beach, Fla., averaged 10.3 points and 4.1 assists for the Seminoles last season and was named the Atlantic Coast Conference freshman of the year. He was a defensive force, with 35 steals and 11 blocks in 24 games.
“I don’t back down for nobody. It’s about how tough you are, what you’re willing to do. I’m willing to do those things,” said Barnes, clad in a brand-new red Raptors had, a white turtle neck and a shimmering white brocade suit. “I’m pretty tough on the floor, I have a grit when I’m on the floor. I don’t get bullied.”
Barnes feels his shooting has improved “tremendously” since the college campaign wrapped, but said he’s willing to keep working on it as he transitions into the NBA.
“If they feel like they need to fix something in it, I’m willing to work with them to try to fix whatever it needs,” he said. “I’m willing to do whatever it takes to try to be the best player I can be, being that great player, being at the top of the league, being able to just come in day in and day out knowing that I’m the best player on the floor.
“I’m trying to achieve greatness.”
Nurse has high hopes for Barnes
Raptors head coach Nick Nurse thinks Barnes has the makings of a special player, especially if he continues to grind.
“He reminds me of two guys we already have — OG (Anunoby) and Pascal (Siakam),” Nurse said. “And if he can adopt the work ethic that they’ve done to become as good as they’ve become, then he’ll have a chance to do similar things, I think.”
The coach envisions a lineup that includes all three athletes on the floor at once, instantly making the team tougher to play against.
“We like guys that can handle, pass, score, defend, rebound a little bit and just kind of come at you in waves with that,” he said. “And I think that gives us a chance to do that with the three guys.”
Still, there are sure to be growing pains as Barnes adjusts to the league, Nurse cautioned.
“I guarantee he’s probably going to have some `Wow!’ moments, he’s probably going to have some `Oh my gosh’ moments. And then hopefully some more `Wow!’ moments,” he said. “It’ll be up and down, like it is for most young players.”
Toronto made surprising pick
Some were surprised when NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced from the stage of the Barclay Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., that Barnes was the Raptors’ selection with the fourth-overall pick.
There were a lot of good players on the board at the time, Nurse said.
While Barnes has never been to Canada, he said he did visit the Raptors Toronto-themed experience room in Tampa Bay, Fla., on his workout day.
“It just showed me different things about the city. It’s a really nice city. It’s beautiful,” he said, noting that his dad is Jamaican and they had lots of family in Canada. “I really like the city, I really want to go see it for myself in person.”
Barnes marks Toronto’s highest selection since 2006 when the Raptors chose Andrea Bargnani with the No. 1 pick.
There was a tribute to Kentucky freshman guard Terrence Clarke, who was killed in an April car accident after declaring for the draft. Silver announced Clarke as an honorary draft pick at the end of the lottery selections, bringing Clarke’s mother, sister and brother to the stage.
The draft is later than its traditional late-June slot for the second straight year due to the COVID-19 pandemic that interrupted the 2019-20 season. The 2021-22 season is scheduled to return to its normal schedule, with next year’s draft set for June again.
Pistons pick Cade Cunningham at No. 1
The Detroit Pistons selected Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham with the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft Thursday night.
Cunningham had been widely expected to be the first name called in New York, though Pistons general manager Troy Weaver wouldn’t reveal plans earlier this week and said the team would look at every scenario, including trades.
In the end, Detroit stuck with the 19-year-old mentioned as a potential top pick before ever stepping foot on the Oklahoma State campus.
The 6-foot-8, 220-pound point guard from Arlington, Texas, lived up to expectations with his size and fluid game to become a first-team Associated Press All-American. He averaged 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists with a game that allowed him to hit from 3-point range, score off the dribble or find teammates out of traps.
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Cunningham attended the draft wearing a dark suit, shirt and tie with sparkles on his collars and cuffs. When the pick was announced, Cunningham kissed 2-year-old daughter Riley, sitting on his lap, then hugged family members and took the stage alongside NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to don a blue Pistons hat.
“It’s still pretty surreal to me,” Cunningham said. “I know how much responsibility comes with being the No. 1 pick. I know how much responsibility a city will put on the guy that they take No. 1. I’m more than excited to take on those tasks and try to deliver to the city of Detroit.”
Cunningham — the first player in Oklahoma State history to be picked No. 1 overall — joins a Pistons franchise that has won 20 games for two straight seasons and hasn’t finished better than .500 for five straight years.
Rockets grab Jalen Green
Houston followed at No. 2 by grabbing preps-to-pros teenager Jalen Green, who bypassed college basketball to play in the G League. The 6-foot-6 Green averaged 17.9 points on 46 per cent shooting 15 games, showing off high-flying dunks, a willingness to attack the rim and a promising shooting touch.
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Green is now part of Houston’s rebuilding project after the James Harden trade to Brooklyn. The Rockets entered the night with three first-round picks after having a league-low 17 wins.
“They’re going to say it’s a great choice because the goals I have for myself,” Green said. “I plan on reaching them.”
Mobley to Cavs, Suggs to Magic rounds out top 5
Next up was Southern California freshman big man Evan Mobley, who went to Cleveland at No. 3. The 7-footer has potential as a mobile big man with length and the versatility to switch on switches. He swept Pac-12 individual honours while ranking as one of the nation’s top shot blockers and helped the Trojans reach an NCAA regional final for the first time in 20 years.
Toronto adding Barnes bumped Gonzaga freshman point guard Jalen Suggs down to No. 5 with the Orlando Magic, followed by another surprise in Oklahoma City grabbing 6-foot-8 playmaking teenager Josh Giddey – considered a potential lottery prospect — from Australia.
For the second time in five years, the Oklahoma City Thunder went Down Under to find a first-round pick, taking Josh Giddey at No. 6.
The 18-year-old Giddey, a 6-foot-8 guard from Melbourne, Australia, attended the NBA Global Academy in 2019-20 and played last season for the Adelaide 36ers in Australia’s National Basketball League. He was named the league’s rookie of the year after averaging 10.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and a league-best 7.6 assists per game.
The Golden State Warriors selected forward Jonathan Kuminga with the No. 7 pick after he played last season with the G League Ignite following a 2016 move from his home in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
With the Ignite, the development team for top prospects ahead of the draft, the 6-foot-8 Kuminga averaged 15.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists over 13 games. The 18-year-old Kuminga attended high school in Hillside, New Jersey.
Magid added German forward Franz Wagner eighth with their second pick of the night.
Wagner, who averaged 12.5 points in his one season at the University of Michigan, could join his brother, Moritz Wagner, in Orlando. Mo averaged 12.5 points in 11 games with the Magic this past season.
Mitchell to Kings, Williams to Grizzlies complete top 10
The Sacramento Kings selected Baylor two-way guard Davion Mitchell with the ninth overall pick.
Mitchell averaged 14.0 points, 5.5 assists and 2.7 rebounds while helping the Bears to their first national championship in more than 50 years last season.
The Memphis Grizzlies picked up Stanford forward Ziaire Williams through a draft-week deal that gave them the No. 10 overall selection.
The New Orleans Pelicans made the selection for the Grizzlies in keeping with a trade agreed to Monday that won’t be completed until Aug. 6, when deals can become official.
Williams, 19, was a McDonald’s All-American. In his lone season at Stanford, the 6-foot-8 and 185-pound Williams averaged 10.7 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 20 games. Williams shot 37.1%, including 29.1% on 3-pointers.
Complete list of picks
1. Detroit, Cade Cunningham, g, Oklahoma State.
2. Houston, Jalen Green, g, NBA G League Ignite.
3. Cleveland, Evan Mobley, c, USC.
4. Toronto, Scottie Barnes, f, Florida State.
5. Orlando, Jalen Suggs, g, Gonzaga.
6. Oklahoma City, Josh Giddey, g, Adelaide (Australia).
7. Golden State (from Minnesota), Johnathan Kuminga, f, NBA G League Ignite.
8. Orlando (from Chicago), Franz Wagner, g/f, Michigan.
9. Sacramento, Davion Mitchell, g, Baylor.
10. a-New Orleans, Ziaire Williams, f, Stanford.
11. Charlotte, James Bouknight, g, UConn.
12. San Antonio, Joshua Primo, g, Alabama.
13. Indiana, Chris Duarte, g, Oregon.
14. Golden State, Moses Moody, g, Arkansas.
15. Washington, Corey Kispert, f, Gonzaga.
16. b-Oklahoma City (from Boston), Alperen Sengun, c, Besiktas (Turkey).
17. a-Memphis, Trey Murphy, g, Virginia.
18. Oklahoma City (from Miami), Tre Mann, g, Florida.
19. c-New York, Kai Jones, f, Texas.
20. Atlanta, Jalen Johnson, g/f, Duke.
21. d-New York (from Dallas), Keon Johnson, g, Tennessee.
22. e,g-LA Lakers, Isaiah Jackson, f, Kentucky.
23. Houston (from Portland), Usman Garuba, f, Real Madrid (Spain).
24. Houston (from Milwaukee), Josh Christopher, g, Arizona State.
25. d-LA Clippers, Quentin Grimes, g, Houston.
26. Denver, Nah’Shon Hyland, g, VCU.
27. Brooklyn, Cameron Thomas, g, LSU.
28. Philadelphia, Jaden Springer, g, Tennessee.
29. f-Phoenix, Day’Ron Sharpe, c, North Carolina.
30. Utah, Santi Aldama, g, Loyola (Md.).