There has been a lot of talk about Cunningham, Mobley, Green, and Suggs, but who’s the best player after them, between Scottie Barnes and Jonathan Kuminga?
As an NBA fan, you’ve probably heard it a million times by now. But, as reporters, we must say it yet again. The force is strong with this draft class. Of course, you have the top 4 players in the draft that have gotten the most fanfare, the likes of Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green, Jalen Suggs, and Evan Mobley. However, what about the players that will come after that? What about the polarizing Scottie Barnes, and the electric Jonathan Kuminga?
As things stand, both players are practically interchangeable at 5 and 6. But, which one is better? Which one will be the one to outclass the other?
Simply put, which player should Orlando Magic select at 5th overall of these two players?
Jonathan Kuminga or Scottie Barnes? Who’s the right pick for the Orlando Magic?
Now, we do believe that the Orlando Magic essentially need better talent at every position apart from the point guard, and the center positions. However, having a lottery pick in a draft as good as this one, and only selecting based on need would be a waste of the highest order. Hence, we will only look at who’s objectively the better player in our opinion, their potential, and upside. And only based on that will we make our decision.
Now, let’s start with Scottie Barnes, shall we?
The 19-year-old is a unique forward out of Florida State, almost a Draymond Green type player. He is an ultra-switchable player on the defensive end, with scouts assuming he can guard from 1 through 5 because of his length at 6’7” and 225 pounds on his body. On offense, he is an above average, bordering on a very good playmaker that can kick out to shooters on the perimeter, and even make some interesting reads on other players’ cuts.
On both ends, he is a dog, and a monster on the boards. As things stand, scouts love his intangibles and have little to no worries about his work rate on the floor. But, there are other issues.
The player looks uncomfortable while shooting from anywhere outside the paint. And while he does show great touch on his layups, given that he only makes 61% from the line, we really don’t know if he ever develops an outside shot. And of course, as we saw with Lonzo Ball, the lack of a reliable outside shot will hamper his playmaking as well.
Simply put, his quality on the defensive end is essentially a sure thing. But his quality on the offensive end may already have a bit of a worrying ceiling.
Now, let’s move onto the next player on this piece.
This 18-year-old prospect comes out of the G League Ignite team and is the definition of future potential. Standing at 6’8” and weighing 220 pounds, Kuminga is an athletic freak that is likely to catch a lot of bodies in the NBA.
His handle is reasonably tight right now, and he has shown some impressive shot creation abilities. As a first-read passer, he is roughly on the same level as Anthony Edwards right now, in that, when it’s all in front of him, he can make some really smart passes.
For all his upside though, there are quite a few downsides as well. While he has the tools to be something close to a lockdown defender, his intensity on that end has been known to vary. He has incredible upside, but is still incredibly raw. And most of all, as things stand, he is a bit of a ball-stopper and needs to learn how to get his buckets in the flow of the offense.
We’re expecting Jonathan Kuminga to be an incredible player about 5 to 6 years down the line when he develops a lot more than where he is now. So more than anything, only a team that can be patient should take him.
Now, we did say we wouldn’t be factoring in what the Orlando Magic need right now. But, with these two, who are good at incredibly different things, maybe we have to.
The team most definitely needs defense, but it also needs some high upside offensive players.
Franky, for us, it has to be Jonathan Kuminga at 5th pick here. He has already shown his incredible potential on the defensive end. And given his tools, we do think he can develop into a very good defender in due time.
But will the Orlando Magic really select him? Will they select Scottie Barnes? Or will they select someone who is a complete surprise?
Only time will tell.