The Toronto Raptors went from a team that few expected to make a ton of noise this season to a firm playoff contender that currently holds the No. 9 seed in the Eastern Conference. The play of Scottie Barnes directly correlates to Toronto’s sudden rise back to relevancy.
Despite being in a bit of a slump early in the season when the starting lineup returned to full health, Barnes is still averaging 14.5 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game. Not bad for someone who was billed as raw and an offensive project at this point in his career.
While Barnes raced out to an early lead in the Rookie of the Year race, his lead has shrunk due to some of the other big names catching up to him. Barnes has the Rookie of the Year race on his mind, as one of his main personal goals this year is taking home some silverware.
Barnes was quoted as saying that he is trying as hard as he can to win Rookie of the Year in order to “start my legacy off right.” It’s nice to hear Barnes be so ambitious and driven with regards to the personal goals he is setting for himself.
Will he be able to end the year on top of the pile?
Toronto Raptors: Scottie Barnes wants that Rookie of the Year trophy.
Barnes will compete with other top prospects like Cade Cunningham, Franz Wagner, and Evan Mobley for this award. The former two have the advantage of being able to pad their stats on teams that are rebuilding, while the latter is playing an instrumental role in Cleveland’s fantastic season.
Barnes is no longer the sure-fire Rookie of the Year winner, but he’ll be in the thick of the hunt all season long. Barnes has had some lapses this year when it comes to off-ball defense and shot selection, but his ability to get to the rim, gradually improve his jumper, and line up at multiple positions have deservedly drawn praise.
Barnes might not get the same volume of shot attempts that he received earlier in the season due to Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam dominating on offense, but the fact that he is such a statistically proficient member of a potential playoff team should generate some interest in him among the voters.
Flip on any Raptors game and Barnes will eventually make one play that makes you jump out of your seat. Scottie is doing everything he can to prove he is the best rookie from this class, and it’s on the voters to recognize him as such.