Giannis Antetokounmpo next? Raptors rookie Scottie Barnes is showing early signs of excellence

Scottie Barnes’ uniqueness as a prospect makes NBA comparisons difficult to draw in preparation for the 2021 NBA Draft.

How do you project a 6-foot-9 guard in the body of a power forward who can do a little bit of everything at each end of the floor? Is he like Draymond Green? Boris Diaw? Jabari Parker? Those names (all pre-draft comparisons) show the range the pundits feel Barnes could eventually become in the league.

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As it turns out, the best comparison is the one that seems ridiculous before the NBA Draft, but a quarter of the way through Barnes’ rookie season, it’s impossible to ignore the nuances of Giannis Antetokounmpo in his game. .

I mean, come on.


It’s hard to think of any player other than Antetokounmpo watching Barnes twist across the lane for a steep slope or, more impressively, go all the way to the coast with three dribbles for a transitional slope.

… He went coast to coast in a canoe with three (!) dribbling.

The unique blend of length and fitness that both Antetokounmpo and Barnes possess allows them to do things other NBA players can’t, which makes for a great comparison between the two. Of course, the comparison goes much deeper.

Now, here’s the part where I make it clear that I’m not saying that Barnes is going to be a multiple-time MVP, Defensive Player of the Year and MVP of the finals like Antetokounmpo did in his first eight seasons, but I do not, nor do I say.

THAN: With the title, Giannis positioned himself to reach rare levels of greatness

Because Antetokounmpo’s rise to superstardom is perhaps the best example of growth and exponential growth in league history, it’s not ironic to say that Barnes is far more advanced than Antetokounmpo in the league. similar time.

That’s reality.

Rookie comparison: Scottie Barnes vs. Giannis Antetokounmpo
Player Season The age NS GS MIN PTS REB AST FGM FG% 3 pm 3P% FTM FT%
Giannis Antetokounmpo 2013-14 19 77 23 24.6 6.8 4.4 1.9 2.2 .414 0.5 .347 1.8 .683
Scottie Barnes 2021-22 20 21 21 35.6 15.3 8.1 3.3 6.2 .489 0.7 .375 2.2 .730

Since context is important, it’s worth noting that the two fell into very different circumstances as rookies.

Antetokounmpo was picked 15th overall by a Bucks team that had qualified for the knockout stages a year earlier, finding themselves on and off the starting lineup as a development project. On the other hand, Barnes is the fourth overall pick for the Raptors, who are in the process of ushering in a new era of basketball.


While Barnes will be the main object of attention for the Raptors’ esteemed player development program in the years to come, he’s entering the league as a much more polished product, ready to pay tribute. donate at the NBA level.

That said, it’s worth noting that Barnes turned 20 years old before playing his first NBA season while Antetokounmpo made his NBA debut at 18 and celebrated his 20th birthday in December of his sophomore season.

So it’s only fair that we compare them at that point, right?

Season 20 age comparison: Scottie Barnes vs. Giannis Antetokounmpo
Player Season The age NS GS MIN PTS REB AST FGM FG% 3 pm 3P% FTM FT%
Giannis Antetokounmpo 2014-15 20 81 71 31.4 12.7 6.7 2.6 4.7 .491 0.1 .159 3.2 .741
Scottie Barnes 2021-22 20 21 21 35.6 15.3 8.1 3.3 6.2 .489 0.7 .375 2.2 .730

Even at the same age, Antetokounmpo’s output in Year 2 isn’t quite at what we’ve seen from Barnes during his rookie campaign.

While Antetokounmpo averaged 16.9 points, 7.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists in his third season in line with Barnes’ rookie numbers, he made the All-Star jump in 4 and was named MVP just two seasons later.

Just as the exponential growth from Giannis will be a testament to the hard work of him and the development staff in Milwaukee, it’s also reason for Raptors fans to be excited for what’s to come. from their star rookie – both this season and in the years to come.

It seems absurd to compare a 20-year-old rookie with an all-time great, but it has many layers. Of course, there are metrics and numbers, even dramatic plays, but what about things that can’t be measured when put together in draft, quantified on a statistics sheet, or analyzed on film? ?

Barnes had that, too.

THAN: Where does Barnes rank in the early season MVP race?

After debuting the Raptors unofficially at the Summer League in Las Vegas, Barnes wrote a letter in The Players’ Tribune titled “What’s Up, Toronto?” In it, Barnes talks about his passion for winning and winning big, explaining his anger about not having a chance to compete for the Summer League championship by saying that “it just shows his love of the game.” I’m dedicated to this game and this city because all I want to do is play my best for this team. And I look forward to you showing that even more and more.”

Familiar sound.

That’s one thing to say about it but it’s another to back those words up with action, which gives Barnes full everything. While Antetokounmpo was a healing scratch on the two’s first meeting, Barnes showed his passion and fire by taking on another challenge.

According to The Athletic’s Eric Koreen, head coach Nick Nurse said that Barnes’ reaction to learning about Antetokounmpo was a statement that he would step up defense of Bucks star Khris Middleton.

Middleton finished the night with 22 points (8 out of 20 shots) with Barnes defending him for 34.7 partial fortunes, according to Stats.

The mentality Barnes possesses is what allows him to accept challenges in such a way, which shows in the scores and in the movie. And while the similarities with Antetokounmpo will forever be there, Barnes is in a position to forge his own path in the league as the Raptor’s next franchise platform.

The rapid rise to stardom has only just begun.

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