San Antonio Spurs: Hollinger compares lottery prospect to Kawhi Leonard

Scottie Barnes
Scottie Barnes / Justin Casterline/Getty Images

One writer from The Athletic thinks there's "early San Antonio Spurs-era" Kawhi Leonard potential in one 2021 NBA Draft prospect.

While there's been a general feeling that Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley, Jalen Green, and Jalen Suggs will be the first four drafted on July 29th, John Hollinger isn't convinced those are the top four available players in this class.

After expectedly putting Cunningham and Mobley first and second, Hollinger listed Florida State's Scottie Barnes (subscription required) as the third-best available player with less than three weeks remaining until draft night. In the column, Hollinger compares Scottie's upside to that of an early-Spurs era Kawhi Leonard.

As Spurs fans know, Leonard wasn't very polished offensively when he first entered the league, particularly with his jump shot. Thanks to some help from legendary shooting coach Chip Engelland, however, Leonard was able to overcome his shooting issues and develop into one of the league's most devastating two-way players fairly quickly.

Similar to early Kawhi, Barnes has been lower on some prospect boards due to his perceived offensive issues, but Hollinger is not so sure that's a major issue. Scottie's driving ability and long strides help his ability to be effective inside while his defense is already top-level for his age.

In reading his whole section on Barnes, it's clear to me that Hollinger believes Scottie's toolbox in all things other than shooting make him a tempting third pick. Given the Spurs' world-class coaching in that department, that makes things a little bit more interesting if they opt to trade for a higher pick on draft day.

I recently included Barnes on my list of guys worth trading up for in the NBA Draft. Back then, he was projected to go somewhere in the 7-10 range. If recent analyses like Hollinger's are to be believed, he may be taken earlier after all.

The San Antonio Spurs already took advantage of Florida State's impressive developmental team when they took Devin Vassell 11th overall last season. Considering the similarities Scottie Barnes has to a former Spurs great, should they do whatever it takes to go back to that well?

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With the way prospects keep being shuffled around, it's going to be a very interesting draft night in San Antonio either way.