Raptors’ Scottie Barnes makes his case for Rookie of the Year

The Toronto Raptors didn’t take long to bounce back into the postseason after one season in the lottery, and the performance of standout rookie Scottie Barnes is a huge reason why. An immediate starter and difference-maker, Barnes should be the 2022 Rookie of the Year.

His main competition for this award comes in the form of Cavaliers stud Evan Mobley and Pistons dynamo Cade Cunningham. Both of them have been excellent this season, but Barnes’ resume exceeds them once you start digging into the data and realizing his importance.

Barnes might not be the biggest self-promoter in the world, but he’s taken it upon himself to convince the larger basketball landscape that he deserves this award. Raptors fans have seen the impact he’s provided for his team, and he’s leaning on that factor to set himself apart.

In an interview with Shams Charania, Barnes said that the “impact I’m having on my program” and the fact that his team is a consistent winner as reasons to vote for him as the Rookie of the Year. When you take that into account in addition to his statistical dominance, it’s easy to see why Barnes is positioned to make a run at this honor.

Toronto Raptors rookie Scottie Barnes thinks he is the Rookie of the Year.

Barnes averaged 15.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game in his rookie season. He became the first rookie to hit those respective averages since Luka Doncic, who also won Rookie of the Year. Even more impressively, he’s done so while being the fifth offensive option on a playoff team.

Mobley has been a fantastic two-way player for a resurgent Cavaliers squad, but Barnes has him beat in most statistical categories on a better team. Cunningham has very gaudy numbers, but they’ve come on a Pistons team that might earn the No. 1 overall pick again.

Is there a chance that momentum is swinging in Barnes’ favor? After it looked like Mobley was going to run away with the award, Barnes won Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month in both February and March/April. Will Barnes’ late-season surge be enough to swing the voters?

The fact that Barnes averaged the numbers that he did while often playing alongside All-Star and All-NBA talent that took shots away from him speaks to how impactful he can be. Rather than go for a lesser offensive player in Mobley or a stat-padder in Cunningham, Toronto’s cornerstone is the clear choice for Rookie of the Year.