In a bit of an upset, Toronto Raptors standout Scottie Barnes is the NBA’s 2021-22 Rookie of the Year. Shams Charania of The Athletic reports that Barnes, the No. 4 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, beat out the perceived favorite, Cleveland Cavaliers big man Evan Mobley, and the No. 1 pick in the Draft, Detroit Pistons guard Cade Cunningham.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 23, 2022
The NBA eventually confirmed the news and showed that Barnes narrowly beat out Mobley by the closest margin in the award’s history.
The 15-point difference between the NBA Rookie of the Year winner (Scottie Barnes) and the second-place finisher (Evan Mobley) is the smallest margin since the current voting format began 19 years ago.
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Full voting results ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/LWhlYARDcX
— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) April 23, 2022
Toronto’s decision to draft Barnes came as a bit of a surprise, as the consensus was that the team would take Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs at No. 4 overall. Instead, the team opted to bring on board the Florida State standout, and from the jump, he was able to make his impact felt — Barnes started all 74 games in which he appeared for the Raptors and made his presence felt on both ends of the floor. Barnes averaged 15.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.1 steals, and 0.7 blocks in 35.4 minutes per game while connecting on 49.2 percent of his shots from the field.
Mobley and Cunningham both put up big numbers for their respective teams and established themselves and future stars in the Eastern Conference. Mobley, in particular, received praise for his ability to step onto the floor from day one and play a major role, particularly on the defensive end of the floor. But for the third time in franchise history and the first since Vince Carter won the award in 1998-98, the Rookie of the Year award is heading north of the border.