The 2021 NBA Draft is shaping up to be one of the best in recent memory, as dozens of lottery picks have already established themselves as long-term cornerstones. The Detroit Pistons, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Toronto Raptors have to be thrilled with the performances of Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley, and Scottie Barnes so far.
Those three standouts are the favorites to take home the Rookie of the Year award this season, though Barnes’ case has gotten even stronger in the last few weeks. The Raptors have clinched a playoff spot, and Barnes has been one of Toronto’s most important assets on both sides of the ball.
Even though Barnes is averaging 15.5 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 3.5 assists for a raptors team that will make it to the postseason as either the No. 5 or No. 6 seed, NBA.com is still not giving him the respect he deserves in their NBA Rookie Ladder. In fact, they have him in third place.
Barnes checks in behind Mobley in first and Cunningham in second although Barnes has been improving and both of the competitors in front of him have been sidelined with injuries. Is anyone over there actually watching Raptors games?
Toronto Raptors rookie Scottie Barnes deserves Rookie of the Year.
Let’s take apart Cunningham first. We all know that he’s been fantastic, but he’s put up those numbers on a Pistons team that is eyeing the No. 1 overall pick. While postseason success isn’t often considered a determining factor in the Rookie of the Year race, Barnes’ play in crunch time has to be recognized.
Mobley is having a great year. Calm down, Cavs fans. However, he hasn’t played since March 28 due to an injury. Despite the fact he is getting more shots without Jarrett Allen, Mobley has topped 13 points just once since March 16. With Toronto leaping ahead of Cleveland in the standings, Barnes’ case is getting even stronger.
Barnes is the first rookie since Luka Doncic to average 15 points, seven rebounds, and three assists per game. The last 10 rookies to achieve that combination of figures won Rookie of the Year.
Suddenly, a Raptors player on a playoff team hits those figures, yet Mobley is getting preference over him? I get that he can rebound and defend, but let’s not kid ourselves.
Anyone that is pretending both Cunningham and Mobley are clear of Barnes in the Rookie of the Year race might as well have a huge red sticker that reads “I don’t watch Raptors games” stamped across their forehead. The mercurial Barnes missing out on Rookie of the Year would be an egregious mistake on behalf of the media.