How Paolo Banchero stacks up against HoopsHype's Top 25 Under 25
Scottie Barnes (22), Toronto Raptors
Out of every young player on HoopsHype's list, Scottie Barnes is the player whose resumé is closest to the same as Paolo Banchero. Out of a class of Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley and the Orlando Magic's own Franz Wagner, Scottie Barnes snagged the 2021 Rookie of the Year, one year before Paolo Banchero entered the league.
Barnes averaged 15.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists in his first season and used a February-April surge (where he won back-to-back Eastern Conference Player of the Month titles) to capture the Rookie of the Year Award. The Florida State product led a lowly Raptors squad -- who finished 27-45 the year before -- to a 48-34 record and the fifth seed in the East.
Barnes' versatility on both ends of the floor has been a huge upside in his development into one of the league's best youngsters.
He entered the league as a power forward, switched to the 3 in his sophomore season and is now running the 2 (with some 3 mixed in now that the recent trade with the New York Knicks slid RJ Barrett into the 2-guard spot).
Barnes sticks out offensively as a threat. He is long and quick and he has NBA strength that he took with him from college. From his second game as a pro, where he dropped 25 and 11 on the Boston Celtics, Barnes proved his scoring ability was NBA-ready.
What really took him to the next level, however, was being moved to point guard while Fred VanVleet missed time. He created matchup nightmares for opposing guards and centers (on switches). Defensively, he has played extensively on the opponent's best player and has excelled.
There is so much to enjoy about this comparison.
Banchero and Barnes are very similar players. While Banchero - at 6-foot-10, 250 pounds - plays at the 3/4 spots in comparison to Barnes at 6-foot-7, 217-pound frame, the differences largely end there.
On offense, they are both attack-first players when looking to score. Both players' biggest strength is their ability to drive off the dribble and create looks for themselves.
This season, Barnes has turned more of those looks off the dribble into three-point shots. He is averaging 1.5 more attempts from outside per game than Banchero. Their versatility speaks volumes to their offensive game.
But the real conversation starts beyond the statistics. Looking at the numbers, it is pretty much even. Give the edge to one guy over the other based on personal preference or advanced stats, but it is neck-and-neck.
The conversation of the best young players has to go beyond who is performing the best.
Banchero has shown in the last two seasons he can thrive as a number one option better than Barnes. Barnes is a fantastic facilitator and a better passer than Banchero. Overall, a guy you can plug and play into any team in the league, regardless of scheme.
Banchero, though, is a bona fide franchise player. He has had to be the number one scoring option in Orlando since Day 1 and has proven the ability to take over games with limited scoring help apart from Franz Wagner (and especially the case this year with injuries permeating up and down the Magic bench).
Barnes is arguably a better all-around player within his scheme but is not asked to lead his team with the presence of Pascal Siakam in the frontcourt.
Toronto, though, has been open to dealing Siakam as recently with the two sides nowhere close to reaching an agreement to extend his contract. That could be the move Barnes needs to ascend to the true No 1 up North, rather than the 1A/1B he flip-flopped around since entering the league.
As it stands, these two emerging superstars are going to be battling for an All-Star spot in the East over the next month. Both teams have found their franchise player and the question of "who's better" will be a long conversation over the next few years.