"And with the fourth pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, the Toronto Raptors select Scottie Barnes." Those are words almost nobody expected to hear from Adam Silver last night. Nearly every mock draft had the Raptors opting for point guard Jalen Suggs at number four. The idea was that Suggs would fill the hole left behind by Kyle Lowry. After watching Suggs workout for the team, Masai Ujiri and the Raptors had other plans.
"The rumor that went out in the league was that Jalen Suggs workout with the Raptors was not strong". ESPN insider Brian Windhorst
Now, that isn't to say that the poor workout was the sole reason for the Raptors passing on Suggs. It's anyone's guess how much individual workouts even affect the draft process. After all, scouts spend months evaluating prospects to make the most informed choice. The Raptors are ever forward-thinking. Scottie Barnes could have been Toronto's guy all along. Still, it could be that the workout was the straw that broke the camel's back.
Benefit of the doubt
The Toronto Raptors' future is still up in the air, with President Masai Ujiri yet to sign an extension. General Manager Bobby Webster will speak on the draft later tonight.
At this point, the front office has earned the benefit of the doubt regarding the draft. The Raptors track record when drafting long, athletic wing players is stellar. They spotted Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby late in the first round of back-to-back drafts. The former is now an All-Star, and the latter is arguably the best perimeter defender in the NBA. Norman Powell was found in the second round. Fred VanVleet went undrafted. That's incredible value so late in (and out) of the draft. It will be interesting to see if they can replicate the same level of success with Scottie Barnes.