Toronto forward Scottie Barnes was named Rookie of the Year in the NBA on Saturday, trailing Cleveland’s Evan Mobley.
“It’s a big prize, that’s one of the big things,” said Raptors coach Nick Nurse.
Barnes received 48 votes in first place and 378 points from a global panel of 100 writers and broadcasters. Mobley received 43 votes in first place and finished with 363 points.
“Of course it’s been my goal all year to try to win it, but I don’t really think too much or try to do too much,” Barnes said. “I’m just doing my part, doing what I have to do. Winning helps it too.”
Barnes helped make a change in Toronto, where the Raptors led 48-34 after finishing 27-45 and missing the playoffs last season.
The 15-point difference is the smallest difference in the rookie category under the current voting system starting from the 2002-03 season. The player receives five points for the first place vote, three points for the second place vote, and one point for the third place vote.
The award was announced shortly before the Raptors took on Philadelphia in Game 4 of their first series, 3-0.
Coming off the bench, Barnes was back after missing the previous two games with a sprained left ankle. England finished with six points and 11 rebounds in 25 minutes as Toronto won 110-102 to prevent elimination.
“We got a great boost off the bench from Scottie with his recovery and his presence,” Nurse said.
Barnes averaged 15.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 35.4 minutes per game, starting all 74 games he played. He led all rookies by minutes and was third in points and rebounds.
“He’s going to keep getting better, keep growing, but it’s a great moment,” said Raptors guard Gary Trent Jr. speak. “I’m ecstatic for him, and that’s a great thing.”
The 4th draft pick after a season at Florida State joined Vince Carter (1999) and Damon Stoudamire (1995-96) as Toronto players voted Rookie of the Year. Barnes was told he had beaten Carter in a video appearance at Friday’s practice session.
“I was wondering what he was talking to us about,” Barnes said. “He was just moving on and I started to realize.”
Nurse said Barnes’ award was a welcome change after Toronto lost in extra time Wednesday, falling behind 3-0 to the 76ers.
“It was a great moment to share as a team because, like all of us here, 3-0 down, there weren’t many great moments to think about,” Nurse said. . “So that’s a good boost.”
Barnes is the only rookie in the top five in points, rebounds, assists, steals and saves.
“What you see on the field is exactly Scottie: enthusiastic. Fun. Sporty. Skilled and winner,” Raptors President Masai Ujiri said in a statement. “We – and our fans – have enjoyed seeing his development this season, and we can’t wait to see what the future brings.”
Mobley, picked before Barnes, helped make a similar change in Cleveland. The striker averaged 15 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks as the Cavaliers fell just shy of returning to post-season for the first time since LeBron James left in 2018.
Detroit’s Cade Cunningham, first pick in the draft, finished third.