Scottie Barnes closes Rookie of the Year gap with Evan Mobley

TORONTO, ON - MARCH 24: Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors and Evan Mobley #4 of the Cleveland Cavaliers (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - MARCH 24: Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors and Evan Mobley #4 of the Cleveland Cavaliers (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors‘ matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers was more than just a mano-a-mano duel for the right to avoid the play-in tournament. It was proof that the two most worthy candidates for Rookie of the Year are Raptors forward Scottie Barnes and Cavs big man Evan Mobley.

The Raptors managed to pull out a 117-104 victory against a Cavaliers team lacking the interior presence of Jarrett Allen. Barnes himself finished the night with 11 points, six rebounds, and four assists. Throwing in two steals and a block confirmed his excellent defensive shift.

While Mobley recorded 11 points and three blocks in this game, he was a complete ghost in the fourth quarter. Bench players like Chris Boucher were convincingly more productive. Barnes may not have blown the doors off from a statistical point of view but played a huge role in making sure Toronto’s critical victory.

Considering how even the two have been statistically, voters will likely use the records of Barnes and Mobley’s respective teams when it comes time to pick a winner. Barnes taking it right at Mobley and picking up a crucial win in Toronto should make it even tougher for the media to call a winner in this race.

Toronto Raptors star rookie Scottie Barnes beat Evan Mobley.

Since the All-Star break, Barnes set a new career-high with 28 points, matched that total just three days later, and then topped that number by scoring 31 points against the Lakers. OG Anunoby just returned from his injury, and Barnes did a phenomenal job of stepping up when he was out.

Barnes received his Rookie of the Month award for February. I can’t imagine that it was a coincidence he picked up the award with Mobley in attendance. He then proceeded to help shut down Darius Garland and lead the Raptors to a very important victory over a fellow playoff team.

While Cade Cunningham is putting up some fantastic numbers in Detroit, the fact that the Pistons have such a poor record might dissuade some voters from taking him seriously as a Rookie of the Year contender. Barnes and Mobley should be the top two candidates.

While Mobley has had some success against Barnes in the past, the fact that Scottie is playing so well while often being relegated to the fourth option on offense should mean something to the voters. Even if Barnes doesn’t win the award, this year has been one of the best rookie seasons in franchise history.

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