Is Scottie Barnes is the most important rookie in Raptors history?

TORONTO, ON - MARCH 4: Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - MARCH 4: Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images) /

Scottie Barnes’ rookie season might be the most impactful we’ve seen in the history of the Toronto Raptors. His numbers might not surpass the great Vince Carter or rival the significance of Damon Stoudamire, but he has had a greater impact on the success of the franchise as a rookie than any other in the team’s history.

Considering that many initially questioned the selection of Barnes with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, his progression has been remarkable. Barnes went from an offensive question mark to an indispensable part of Toronto’s offensive attack in a few months.

In a year where many expected Toronto to once again end up in the lottery, all Barnes has done is raise the ceiling and floor for this team to the point where they currently occupy the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference.

It’s hard to argue with what has happened right before our eyes, especially in a league in which the success or failure of one outstanding player can make or break the fortunes of an entire franchise. Barnes’ combination of production and contributions to winning basketball make this a season for the ages.

Can Scottie Barnes get the Toronto Raptors to the postseason?

The Raptors have had some great rookie performers in the past like Carter and Stoudamire. However, in none of those previous cases did the Raptors go from mediocre to playoff-bound due to their play. Chris Bosh, Jonas Valanciunus, and DeMar DeRozan didn’t have that kind of immediate impact on the organization in their first season.

Andrea Bargnani was a rookie in 2007 when the Raptors won 47 games and returned to the playoffs for the first time in five years, but he wasn’t one of the main reasons for that success. Appendicitis also kept him out of the playoff run that year. Barnes may be on the verge of doing something no other Raptors’ rookie has ever accomplished.

While it’s not a guarantee that they will make it to the postseason, Toronto is just a handful of wins away from getting breathing room between them the rest of the pack. Barnes’ performance has been at the heart of what Toronto preaches on both sides of the ball.

Scottie Barnes influences the Toronto Raptors nightly.

Largely due to a playing style that the coaching staff has instilled in him, Barnes has been able to affect the Raptors’ nightly successes in a variety of ways. As a rookie, he is averaging 34.5 minutes a game. He starts some games as the guy taking the tip-off and ends them switching onto a guard defensively.

He’s not above running and facilitating offense as though he were a point guard. He’s proven to be more than adept at finishing plays as evidenced by his 15 points per game average.

Former Raptors head coach Dwane Casey pointed this out recently.

"“He’s playing at a high level, The game is slowing down for him. He’s seeing things, scoring in the low post, his cuts are on time, and he’s playing good basketball. He’s playing like a veteran right now.”"

Barnes provides a poor rebounding team with five defensive rebounds per game in addition to the hustle and energy he brings to the floor every night. Barnes is a do-everything type player like a five-tool player in baseball.

Will Scottie Barnes win Rookie of the Year?

Barnes is in a tight Rookie of the Year race. Evan Mobley, the seven-footer selected right before Barnes, has contributed to the Cavaliers’ resurgence. The Cavs sit sixth in the Eastern Conference, just a few games ahead of Toronto.

However, irrespective of who claims the individual honor, Barnes has been the most consequential rookie addition the Raptors have acquired yet. The fact that Barnes is right up there with Mobley while being the fifth scoring option on offense most nights is startling.

Barnes, either by design or desire, is often in the right place to make the right play. As a rookie, Barnes’ scoring average of 15 points is based on an efficient 12.2 field goal attempts. Carter averaged 18.3 points on 15.3 shot attempts. The rookie doesn’t need to be ball dominant to be dominant in a game.

As the Raptors try to finish up the season strong in their last handful od games, Barnes’ play will be a significant contributor to the franchise returning to playoff contention.

Next. Grading all Raptors newcomers. dark