The Toronto Raptors took a bit of a gamble by selecting Scottie Barnes at No. 4 overall in the 2021 NBA Draft, but their riskiness has paid off in a major way after the Florida State star won Rookie of the Year. Despite stern challenges from Evan Mobley and Cade Cunningham, Barnes was able to win out.
Barnes became the third Raptors player in franchise history to win this award, joining Vince Carter and Damon Stoudamire. While Carter might have had better box score stats, Barnes was instrumental in helping the Raptors go from 12th in the East to fifth in the span of one season.
The voters seemed to value what Barnes brought to the table as a winner, giving him the nod over Mobley and Cunningham due to the former’s second-half slide and the latter’s numbers on a bad team. Barnes was given this prestigious honor in style with an assist from a Raptors legend.
Carter narrated a video congratulating Barnes for winning Rookie of the Year. After being mobbed by his teammates and getting overcome with emotion, Barnes was offered some tissues in jest by Fred VanVleet. Watching all of that hard work from Barnes finally pay off was an emotional moment.
Toronto Raptors: Scottie Barnes deserved Rookie of the Year
Barnes averaged 15.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game during his rookie year. Those numbers are impressive enough by themselves, but the fact that Barnes was able to pull this off despite often coming into games as the fourth and fifth scoring option makes these numbers even stronger.
Barnes has only played in three playoff games due to an ankle injury, but he has been one of the most consistent Raptors when he is on the floor in Toronto’s wins. In a season where development has been prioritized, Barnes has hit just about every milestone Toronto could have asked for.
Barnes created a list of goals that he wanted to reach during his rookie season. As far as his on-court pursuits are concerned, Barnes managed to check Rookie of the Year, “be a lead defender“, and “destroy everyone at practice” off the list. Not too shabby for a guy who was billed as extremely raw in college.
Barnes has become a fan favorite in Toronto for always going above and beyond to stay positive amid some uncertainty with injuries on this team. No matter what happens in the playoffs, Toronto surely has a player in Barnes that can be a long-term building block for the next decade.