‘I Knew He Was Gonna Be Special’| LeBron James Praises Raptors’ Scottie Barnes, The Shadow League NBA Rookie Meter Leader

(Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)

It’s that time again where we rank the rocking rookies of the NBA.

No. 1: Scottie Barnes — Toronto Raptors (Forward)

Barnes has continuously shown his elite two-way ability all season. His game is a Swiss Army knife of production; scoring, rebounding, playmaking. Barnes has been very impressive. This week alone, the former FSU Seminoles star had a slashline of 31/17/6 and 21/9/5 against the Lakers. His play has been stellar, and the Raptors rookie even has LeBron James singing his praises. 

“I saw Scottie Barnes for the first time in seventh grade and told one of my good friends that this kid is gonna be special. I seen the length of his arms and he was playing point guard at his size that game.
“Obviously, he’s still doing it now, he can play multiple positions, but for him to have that size and that ability, I knew he was gonna be special.”

This season he’s averaging 15.5 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game

No. 2: Evan Mobley — Cleveland Cavaliers (F/C)

Since the injury to Jarrett Allen, Mobley has seen an increase in his minutes at center, and he’s handled it seamlessly. The two-way big had several standout games recently. Against the Clippers, Mobley went for 30/6/4, he followed that up with 13/9/6 against Embiid and the Sixers and laid 27/11/4 on the Nuggets. 

Mobley’s shown maturity and high basketball IQ that seems to resonate with his teammates. He’s still the front-runner to win the Rookie of the Year award, but he’s got some serious competition from Barnes and Detroit Pistons rookie Cade Cunningham.

This season Mobley is averaging 15 points, eight rebounds and four assists.

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No. 3: Cade Cunningham — Detroit Pistons (Guard)

Cade only played in one game this week due to a minor injury, but the 2021 No. 1 overall pick made it count with a near triple-double, going for 23 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds.

With all the talented players in the draft, Cunningham has shown why he’s got the highest ceiling. His skill set is elite, and once he becomes a more consistent range shooter he’ll be even tougher to guard.

His season slashline is 17/6/6, displaying his all-around abilities.


No. 4: Franz Wagner — Orlando Magic (Guard)

Wagner continues to be a bright spot for the rebuilding and youthful Orlando Magic. The uber-talented wing has shown an ability to score at a high level and create offense for others. This past week he was solid as usual, including a gem against the Pistons where he went for 26 points, five rebounds and a couple of assists. 

This season he’s averaged 15.5 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game.

No. 5: Jonathan Kuminga — Golden State Warriors (Forward)

Blessed with freakish athleticism, Kuminga has injected some real life into a Warriors team that didn’t have that type of player on its roster last season.

He filled in admirably while Draymond Green was out with a back injury, averaging 16 points and six rebounds on 57 percent shooting. Although still raw, the rookie has been a huge boost for a Warriors squad with championship aspirations.