The Toronto Raptors' win over the Orlando Magic on Friday may have seemed like just another regular-season game, but it was the matchup between rookies Scottie Barnes and Jalen Suggs that got all the attention.
The two players were drafted back-to-back last summer, with the Raptors picking Barnes at No. 4 and the Magic grabbing Suggs at No. 5, which stunned Raptors fans considering Suggs seemed like a consensus top-four pick.
The Raptors' front office initially received mixed fan reactions as the majority felt it was a misstep for a team heading towards a rebuild, but that doubt faded when Barnes immediately embraced the city and its fans.
We’re only six games into the 2021-22 NBA season, but the Raptors seem more than happy with how Barnes has been developing, which bodes well for the team’s future and championship aspirations.
The 6-foot-7 forward has gotten off to a strong start, averaging 17 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game, while shooting an impressive 53.7 percent from the field and 75 percent from the charity stripe. However, his three-point stroke and ball-handling could use more work as he’s only shooting 16.7 percent from downtown and averaging three turnovers per game.
Barnes will likely experience some growing pains and adjustments throughout the year, especially with the impending return of all-star forward Pascal Siakam.
Unfortunately, Suggs hasn’t experienced the same success with the Magic so far. The 6-foot-5 guard has struggled, averaging 11.6 points, 3.6 assists, and 3.6 turnovers per game, while shooting an abysmal 28.6 percent from the field and 21.4 percent from beyond the arc.
Considering Suggs and Barnes were drafted back-to-back, it was inevitable both players would be compared to one another as they went head-to-head in Friday's game and they didn’t disappoint. Here's a closer look at how they performed.
Barnes vs. Suggs
Barnes finished the night with 21 points, nine rebounds, and two steals after a hot start propelled him to 19 first-half points, including a jaw-dropping coast-to-coast dunk.
Scottie Barnes in the first half:
Looking like a generational talent to me 😈 pic.twitter.com/7S50Pc4sKq
— txbii (@TorontoDame) October 30, 2021
— NBA (@NBA) October 30, 2021
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 29, 2021
Suggs finished with 21 points of his own, adding two rebounds, and four assists, including some big plays down the stretch that gave his team a chance for a comeback win.
Jalen Suggs tonight:
Best game of the season so far for Suggs. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/upnlcm7cG8
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) October 30, 2021
— Larry Bird (@larrybirdizzel2) October 30, 2021
— Bally Sports Florida: Magic (@BallyMagic) October 30, 2021
However, it wasn’t an easy night for Suggs as he got hounded on defence by Gary Trent Jr. and received a “Scottie’s better” chant from Raptors fans while at the free-throw line.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) October 30, 2021
Despite that, it's clear that Barnes and Suggs are both talented players that will be presented with lots of opportunities to improve and develop as the season progresses.
The two remain close friends and shared a special moment with each other after the final buzzer.
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