Why Scottie Barnes is this season’s Rookie of the Year

(Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)

When the 2021-22 National Basketball Association season began, few people were talking about the possibility of Scottie Barnes of the Toronto Raptors winning the rookie of the year award.

Much of the attention has focused on Cade Cunningham and Jalen Green, the top two picks in the NBA Draft last June.

Branes was the fourth overall pick, but he had a relatively quiet season at Florida State University, which led to his anonymity early in the campaign.

But he emerged in a big way, and now he has to be the favorite for the rookie of the year award.

Barnes is a unique and exciting player

Although he is 6-foot-9 and weighs almost 230 pounds, Barnes has the qualities of a much shorter player.

He’s averaged 15.3 points per game while shooting 49.2 percent from the field, plus 7.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game this season, but those numbers don’t tell the whole story.

He can handle the ball, execute the fast break, get into the hoop and finish strong and hit the open man.

With a wingspan of nearly 7-foot-3, Barnes appears to have the potential to become a great defensive player.

He also rotated in big matches against big opponents.

In his second game as a pro, Barnes had 25 points on 11-for-17 shooting and 13 rebounds in a blowout win over the Boston Celtics.

Against the Brooklyn Nets, he had 23 points, 12 rebounds and five assists in a contest in December, then 28 points on a remarkable 12-of-14 shooting, 16 rebounds, four assists and five steals when Toronto beat them from 36 points in February. 28.

Barnes also killed LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers on March 18 with 31 points on 14 of 21 shooting, 17 rebounds and six assists.

If he continues to build on what he’s done this season, perhaps Barnes should consider changing his last name to Pippen, as he appears to be a modern-day version of Michael Jordan’s sidekick Scottie Pippen. in those dynastic Chicago Bulls teams of the 1990s.

Other Rookie of the Year nominees fell short of expectations

Barnes was as impressive as his two main contenders for the Rookie of the Year award were underwhelming.

Cunningham, who was picked by the Detroit Pistons with the first overall pick, has been touted as something of a facsimile of LeBron James, at least in the sense that he’s a long, tall athletic specimen who can do it all. in the field.

But he hasn’t impressed much this season.

The Oklahoma State University product has averaged 17.4 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game this season, but he’s only shot 41.6% overall and 31.4% from 3 points.

Cunningham started going strong in March, scoring 22.9 points on 48.0 percent shooting, 5.9 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game, but that’s probably too little, too late.

Green has been seen as a good one-on-one player who can light him up from the perimeter, but even though he’s scored 17.3 points per game this year, he’s done so with just 42.6 percent of total shots and 34.3% of downtown. .

Clearly, Barnes had a better season than Cunningham or Green.

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