Toronto Raptors

Raptors' Scottie Barnes wants to win, but won't chase, Rookie of the Year award

It didn't take long for Toronto Raptors rookie Scottie Barnes to make his mark in the NBA.

MORE: The early returns on Barnes couldn't be better

Through 14 games, Barnes leads all rookies with averages of 15.9 points and 8.1 rebounds per contest, all while shooting 50.8 percent from the field and dishing out 3.0 assists a night. In addition to Barnes' numbers jumping off the page, his play passes the eye test thanks to a basketball IQ that exceeds his years.

It's early, but at this point, the 20-year-old is the betting favourite to take home Rookie of the Year honours.

MORE: Kevin Durant stunned by Barnes' age

With a buzz that's impossible to ignore, Barnes spoke to reporters about the prospect of him winning the award during Toronto's five-game Western Conference road trip, saying "it's something that I'm gonna try to win, for sure, but it's not something that I'm trying to chase" (per TSN's Josh Lewenberg).

He continued, adding, "I'm just trying to play basketball, win games and do things to contribute on the floor and help this team."

How clear is the path towards Barnes winning Rookie of the Year for the 2021-22 season? Here's how he stacks up against his peers and past winners.

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2021 NBA Draft Class standouts

Aside from Barnes, the rookie who has turned the most heads is Cleveland Cavaliers big man Evan Mobley. To start the season, it looked like it would be a two-man race between the two, but Mobley is set to miss extended time with an elbow injury.

MORE: How much time will Mobley miss?

Can Barnes separate himself from the rest of the class while Mobley is sidelined? Including the two frontrunners, here are five rookies to keep an eye on this season.

2021 Draft class standouts
Player Team Games PTS FGM FGA FG% REB AST
Scottie Barnes Raptors 14 15.9 6.6 13.1 50.8 8.1 3.0
Evan Mobley Cavaliers 15 14.6 5.8 11.7 49.4 8.0 2.5
Jalen Green Rockets 15 14.4 4.9 13.5 36.5 3.3 2.6
Cade Cunningham Pistons 9 13.7 5.0 14.4 34.6 5.8 3.9
Josh Giddey Thunder 14 9.4 4.0 10.4 38.4 6.9 5.9

How Scottie Barnes measures up with past winners

Has the precedent for a Rookie of the Year-calibre season been set by past winners? Here's how Barnes' numbers stack up against the last five players to win the award.

Scottie Barnes vs. Past Rookie of the Year winners
Player Team Season Games PTS REB AST
Scottie Barnes Raptors 2021-22 14 15.9 8.1 3.0
LaMelo Ball Hornets 2020-21 51* 15.7 5.9 6.1
Ja Morant Grizzlies 2019-20 67* 17.8 3.9 7.4
Luka Doncic Mavericks 2018-19 72 21.2 7.8 6.0
Ben Simmons 76ers 2017-18 81 15.8 8.1 8.2
Malcolm Brogdon Bucks 2016-17 75 10.2 2.8 4.2

*Fewer games missed in COVID-19 shortened seasons

In addition to having a look at where Barnes measures up with the last five Rookies of the Year numbers-wise, context is also extremely important.

Of the last five winners, Brogdon (2016-17) and Simmons (2017-18) played key roles on teams that qualified for the NBA Playoffs while Morant (2019-20) and Ball (2020-21) led their respective teams to a Play-In game.

MORE: Where LaMelo would land in 2020 NBA Redraft

Doncic's standout rookie season came as the Mavericks finished with a 33-49 record.

That said, Barnes doesn't necessarily have to help lead the Raptors to the playoffs to win the award, but keeping the team in the hunt has proven to be a key component in recent years. With respect to games missed, Ball missed 21 of a possible 72 games while Morant missed six of a possible 73 games.

Barnes briefly missed time due to a thumb injury but Mobley, his main competition for the award early in the season, stands to miss significant time due to his elbow.

Where Scottie Barnes ranks in Rookie of the Year ladders

Check back throughout the year to see how Barnes' Rookie of the Year resume shapes up.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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