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Scottie Barnes Wins NBA Rookie of the Year over Evan Mobley, Cade Cunningham

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVApril 23, 2022

Toronto Raptors' Scottie Barnes in action during Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers, Saturday, April 16, 2022, in Philadelphia. The 76ers won 131-111. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
AP Photo/Chris Szagola

Toronto Raptors forward Scottie Barnes is reportedly set to be named the 2021-22 NBA Rookie of the Year.

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported Saturday that Barnes won the award over Cleveland Cavaliers center Evan Mobley and Detroit Pistons guard Cade Cunningham.

NBA insider Marc Stein tweeted the voting point totals with Barnes edging Mobley 378-363, followed by Cunningham with 153:

Marc Stein @TheSteinLine

Scottie Barnes narrowly outpoints Evan Mobley for the Rookie of the Year crown … 378 to 363: <br><br>More NBA from me: <a href="https://t.co/LGN9cV7Dif">https://t.co/LGN9cV7Dif</a> <a href="https://t.co/icCSCkgWSg">pic.twitter.com/icCSCkgWSg</a>

Barnes was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2021 NBA draft out of Florida State, and he played a huge role in getting the Raptors into the playoffs as the No. 5 seed.

Defensive brilliance was a hallmark of both Mobley and Barnes, with the latter emerging as a ball-stopping perimeter menace.

Barnes was sometimes given the task of defending the opposing team's best perimeter player despite the Raptors being loaded with defensive-minded, rangy wings.

The Florida State product was also no slouch on the offensive end, posting averages of 15.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists. His work as a secondary ball-handler and vision as a passer were particularly impressive.

The third pick in last June's draft, Mobley averaged 15.0 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game while acting as a defensive centerpiece for the upstart Cavs. His ability to defend at the rim and switch onto guards in pick-and-rolls made him one of the most versatile rookie defenders in recent memory.

"You don’t see a guy that understands the job that needs to be done at that age and that experience and then go out and do it," Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff told reporters in March. 

That said, the award likely would have been Cunningham's had he come along a little faster in Detroit. The No. 1 overall pick finished with averages of 17.4 points, 5.6 assists and 5.5 rebounds, but it was hard for voters to overlook his struggles of the first two months amid the Pistons' 23-59 season.

Cunningham broke out in March with averages of 22.9 points, 7.0 assists and 5.9 rebounds while leading a surprisingly spry Pistons team.

All told, though, it wasn't enough to make him a serious contender to the more consistent Barnes.