Orlando Magic 2021 NBA Draft Preview: Scottie Barnes among those who can do it all

Scottie Barnes is one of the more versatile prospects in the NBA Draft. Mandatory Credit: Adam Cairns/IndyStar via USA TODAY Sports
Scottie Barnes is one of the more versatile prospects in the NBA Draft. Mandatory Credit: Adam Cairns/IndyStar via USA TODAY Sports /

The Orlando Magic have started working out players at the AdventHealth Practice Facility.

It started (at least publicly) Monday with Corey Kispert getting his due diligence with Magic staff. Then Moses Moody posted on social media that he was working out with the Magic (he was not made available to the media). Then Scottie Barnes worked out for the team on Saturday (with perhaps a Friday dinner interview seeing as he is a candidate for the fifth pick in the Draft).

These drills are sometimes tough to gain a lot from.

For top candidates, they are often in the gyms alone. Agents do not want their top prospects getting direct comparisons to other similar prospects. They protect them as much as they can unless they are trying to get them higher up in the draft.

It is a gamble. So teams have to get creative to figure out what these players have.

In a world of versatility and multi-positional play, that can get even more difficult.

The NBA is finding a place for versatile players and is expecting players to do multiple things. That has the Orlando Magic still seeking players who can do a lot more than their position suggests.

So how does the team work out and prepare for a player like Scottie Barnes? The 6-foot-8 forward with a 7-foot-3 wingspan played nearly every position at Florida State.

He often played and defended point guards as he averaged 10.3 points per game, 4.3 assists per game and 4.0 rebounds per game. He shot better than 50-percent from the field, although still less than 30-percent from deep.

This is the reality confronting NBA teams now in this multi-dimensional world. They have game tape to see how these guys play in game action. Now they are trying to fill in the gaps with these workouts.

Welcome to the age of versatility, where a 6-foot-9 point guard like Scottie Barnes is not even unique to his draft class — hello Josh Giddey. And figuring out what skills translate, which skills make a player truly unique, and which may ultimately become a dud.

The whole debate at the fifth pick between Scottie Barnes and G-League Ignite forward Jonathan Kuminga rests on this central question. Is Barnes’ versatility ultimately special enough to make him a centerpiece to the franchise?

"“I see myself as a point guard,” Barnes said after his workout Saturday. “I see myself at any position they want to put me at. I can play it all. Throughout the game, I can play different positions whatever is need. Throughout the game, if I need to come down and play make at the 4-spot, top of the key, elbow, I feel I can play make through there. I can play point guard, come off pick and roll situations and find people close to the basket or come in the open floor and be able to score.”"

Players are expecting to come into the league and play this sort of out-of-position play. At this point, players are supposed to be more fluid offensively. There is a lot less nomenclature for positions on offense. Everyone is expected to do everything.

The Magic have long been preparing to play multiple point guards together with Markelle Fultz sharing the floor with Cole Anthony. R.J. Hampton, who may have grown to 6-foot-7 if his social media boasts are to be believed, could even be slotted as a small forward.

Where positions matter is on defense. But even there, positional versatility is more important than ever. With the threat of so much shooting on the floor, teams often switch almost every screen except involving centers (just ask the Milwaukee Bucks how that went in Game 1 of the NBA Finals).

Live Feed

Toronto Raptors Start, Bench Cut: Pascal Siakam, Scottie Barnes, OG Anunoby
Toronto Raptors Start, Bench Cut: Pascal Siakam, Scottie Barnes, OG Anunoby /

Raptors Rapture

  • Grade the Trade: Raptors give up the farm for Damian LillardRaptors Rapture
  • 3 ways the Raptors could lean towards tanking this seasonRaptors Rapture
  • Trio of Raptors in B/R's Top 100 players, two big names snubbedRaptors Rapture
  • Raptors projected lineup and rotations heading into 2023-24 seasonFanSided
  • Every Toronto Raptors player's chance of being on the 2024 rosterRaptors Rapture
  • Teams need players who can stick everywhere. Orlando feels it has that in bigs like Jonathan Isaac and Chuma Okeke who can switch between wings and forwards easily. This is part of the team’s guiding philosophy as it begins to rebuild.

    Barnes is someone who fits this philosophy and more with his ability to be a playmaker on the floor.

    "“I feel like I’ll be able to fit any situation, to be honest,” Barnes said after his workout Saturday. “Coming to this team, I’ll be able to fit in different places. with my versatility, just being able to defend, bringing that defensive intensity. Bringing that offense and being a slasher and opening things up for myself. With the Magic, I’ll be able to be versatile with different spots on the floor.”"

    Barnes is not alone in that category though.

    Australia’s Josh Giddey is also a point guard in a power forward’s body. He led the NBL in Australia in assists. Teams see his offensive versatility as a potential nightmare for defenses and he has defensive versatility.

    More and more teams are asking bigger players to have this basic ball-handling understanding.

    The question for Barnes and for many of these versatile athletes is whether they can add the other skills to fill in around their natural athletic gifts. They often trade on just being bigger and more athletic than other players when they are younger.

    Barnes especially will have to prove he can be a better shooter after struggling at Florida State. He was great at getting to the basket and finishing around the rim, even if some of his finishes can be awkward.

    Orlando Magic
    Orlando Magic /

    Orlando Magic

    He made just 11 of his 40 3-point attempts (27.5-percent), averaging only 1.5 3-point attempts per game. And he shot only 62.1-percent from the foul line. Barnes has a lot of work to prove with this shot.

    That is what happens a lot more in these workouts. It is a lot of shooting drills and agility drills. Things teams can only test in 1-on-0 situations. How much can they get from these situations?

    That is part of what Barnes is trying to prove in the workout situations he is placed in — he will also have a pro day for Klutch later this week alongside Moses Moody and Kai Jones.

    The good thing about a player like Barnes is he fits anywhere. And that is still his most attractive quality that has him flirting with a top-5 pick.

    "“I feel like I can fit into any system,” Barnes said after Saturday’s workout. “I know how to be versatile and do different things on the floor where it just helps me out so much. Being able to help a team in multiple different ways. I’m so good as a player because I can rotate different positions, do different things on the floor, hustle and things like that.”"

    The Magic are obviously doing their homework on a lot of players. To those hoping to see the team focus on shooting, working out Barnes does not mean shooting is not important.

    We do know that the Magic value intangibles like length and versatility in the players they draft. That is something the team is going to be trying to mine for players with unique skills that can help elevate this team during this rebuild.

    Next. James Bouknight is the scorer Magic need. dark

    This idea and notion is not going away.