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Raptors’ Scottie Barnes wins NBA rookie of the year, edging ex-USC star Evan Mobley

Toronto Raptors forward Scottie Barnes handles the ball April 16, 2022.
Forward Scottie Barnes helped engineer a turnaround in Toronto. The Raptors went 48-34 after finishing 27-45 and missing the playoffs last season.
(Chris Szagola / Associated Press)
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Toronto forward Scottie Barnes was voted NBA rookie of the year Saturday, edging out Cleveland center Evan Mobley.

“That’s a big award. That’s one of the biggies,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said.

Barnes received 48 first-place votes and 378 points from a global panel of 100 writers and broadcasters. Mobley received 43 first-place votes and finished with 363 points.

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“Of course it was a goal of mine all year to try to win it, but I didn’t really try to overthink it or try to do so much,” Barnes said. “I just did my role, did what I had to do. Winning helps with it as well.”

Barnes helped engineer a turnaround in Toronto, where the Raptors went 48-34 after finishing 27-45 and missing the playoffs last season.

The difference of 15 points was the smallest margin in the rookie category under the current voting format that began with the 2002-03 season. Players receive five points for a first-place vote, three points for a second-place vote and one point for third.

The award was announced shortly before the Raptors hosted Philadelphia in Game 4 of their first-round series.

Former USC star and NBA rookie Evan Mobley has made a big impact during the Cleveland Cavaliers rebuild, an ultimate team player without the attitude.

Coming off the bench, Barnes returned after sitting out the previous two games because of a sprained left ankle. He finished with six points and 11 rebounds in 25 minutes as Toronto won 110-102 to stave off elimination.

“We got a great boost off the bench from Scottie with his rebounding and just his presence,” Nurse said

Barnes averaged 15.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 35.4 minutes, starting all of the 74 games he played. He led all rookies in minutes and was third in points and rebounds.

“He’s going to continue to get better, continue to grow, but it was a great moment,” Raptors guard Gary Trent Jr. said. “I’m ecstatic for him, and it’s a great thing.”

The No. 4 draft pick after one season at Florida State joined Vince Carter (1999) and Damon Stoudamire (1996) as Toronto players to be voted rookie of the year. Barnes was informed he had won by Carter during a video appearance at Friday’s practice.

“I was wondering what he was talking to us about,” Barnes said. “He was just going on, and I was starting to realize.”

Barnes was the only rookie to rank in the top five in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks.

Mobley, taken one pick before Barnes, helped spark a similar turnaround in Cleveland. The forward, a former USC standout, averaged 15 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks as the Cavaliers fell just shy of returning to the postseason for the first time since LeBron James left in 2018.

The Detroit Pistons’ Cade Cunningham, the No. 1 pick in the draft, finished third.

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