Can Scottie Barnes become the greatest rookie in Raptors history?

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 23: Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 23: Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors, Damon Stoudamire
TORONTO, CANADA: Toronto Raptors Damon Stoudamire (R) losses control of the ball while trying to go around Cleveland Cavalier’s Danny Ferry in the fourth quarter at Toronto’s Skydome 21 November. The Cavaliers beat the Raptors 89-81. AFP PHOTO Carlo ALLEGRI/ca (Photo credit should read CARLO ALLEGRI/AFP via Getty Images) /

Damon Stoudamire

Rookie Stats: 19.0 PPG, 9.3 AST, 4.0 RPG, 1.4 STL, 42 FG%

One of the weirder careers in NBA history, Stoudamire was the first-ever draft pick made by the Raptors franchise back in 1995.

A lowly expansion team made of table scraps from the rest of the NBA, Stoudamire was the one bright spot in an otherwise hopeless Raptors roster. As a rookie, Mighty Mouse was given the car keys immediately and slammed on the gas.

The Arizona alum was making pull-up threes before Steph Curry could own a library card, breaking scoring and assist records previously held by Oscar Robertson, and lapping his fellow draftees in the Rookie of the Year race with over 67% of the vote.

Granted, the Raptors finished bottom three in the league with only 21 wins that year, but what were you expecting?

Marcus Camby

Rookie Stats: 14.8 PPG, 1.5 AST, 6.3 TRB, 1.0 STL, 2.1 BLK, 48 FG%

One of the forgotten players of his era, Camby is on the shortlist of greatest players never to make an all-star team. A four-time blocks champion with season averages of as many as 3.7 swats a night, Camby’s length and speed at 6-11 made him a truly before-his-time defensive weapon.

Coming into the league in the loaded 1996 NBA draft, Camby’s peers went on to log a combined 64 All-Star appearances. While that stings looking back, the Raptors couldn’t have been happier at the time. In their eyes, they just landed their new star duo in Camby and Stoudamire.

Oddly, neither of those guys reached the heights their rookie campaigns promised, but as a young player, Camby doubled as an athletic rim runner and team defensive anchor. While he was too skinny to guard guys like Shaq straight up in the post, his speed in switches and timing as a weak-side rim protector was for real.

Vince Carter

Rookie Stats: 18.3 PPG, 3.0 AST, 5.7 TRB, 1.5 STL, 1.5 BLK, 45 FG%

This version of Carter was still wielding the elite athleticism that would cement his place in NBA history. Rather than combining that with a long-range shooting touch, rookie Vince made his name as a plus defender and scorer.

His developing 3-point shot didn’t stop him from averaging over 18 points per game. Thanks to mid-range jumpers, moving off-ball, and attacking the basket as only he can, Carter cared about every single game he played in.

Is Toronto Raptors rookie Scottie Barnes better than Vince Carter?

While he was by no means the best version of himself as a 22-year-old rookie, one could argue this was Vince at his most endearing. When it came to the Rookie of the Year vote, Vince cleaned up, collecting 96% of the first-place votes.

Carter had all the trappings of rookie sensation. A three-year standout at UNC, Carter was media-savvy, had an uncommon knack for scoring, and played unselfish basketball. The highlight-reel machine made good on the hype with one of the best debut seasons in Raptors history.