With roughly 20 games left in the NBA’s regular season, these rooks are trying to make one final push to win Rookie of the Year. Raptors frosh Scottie Barnes has ascended to the top this week.
1. Scottie Barnes — Toronto Raptors (Forward)
Barnes started the year playing great and then hit a snag once the Toronto Raptors began to get healthy. But in the month of February the two-way wing reasserted himself. He’s been so outstanding that he won Rookie of the Month honors for the first time this season.
Barnes averaged a slashline of 15/7/5 on 55 percent shooting. He also played great defense, holding players he guarded to a paltry 39 percent from floor in February. The Raptors have turned their season around and Barnes has played a huge role in that.
Raptors head coach Nick Nurse summed up how impressive Barnes’ 28-point outburst on Monday was.
“I don’t think we ran any plays for him tonight,” Nurse revealed.
Scottie Barnes continues to make history. 😤 pic.twitter.com/ptatHIxxrA
— theScore (@theScore) March 1, 2022
2. Evan Mobley – Cleveland Cavaliers (C/F)
The leader for Rookie of the Year and his surprising Cavs have come down to earth as the dog days of the season start to take their toll on the youth. Mobley has been the most consistent rookie in the NBA this season, but he seems to have hit a wall.
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) February 12, 2022
Averaging 12 points on 44 percent shooting the past week, Mobley’s offense has suffered a bit, but his defense is still as solid as ever. Being a two-way big is the main reason he’s the favorite to win ROY. For the season, Mobley is still averaging a 15/8/3/2 slash line on 50 percent shooting.
3. Cade Cunningham — Detroit Pistons (Guard)
The 2021 No. 1 overall is making a strong push to steal Rookie of the Year honors. “Motor Cade” has the highest ceiling of all the rookies from this class. Standing 6 feet 8 and able to play four positions in certain small-ball lineups, the 2021 No. 1 overall pick is just scratching the surface of his potential.
Cunningham didn’t have the luxury of having a training camp, as he was recovering from an injury, but he’s hit the hardwood running since. The Pistons have won three of their past five, and he’s been the catalyst, averaging a 21/7/6 slash line. Shooting and in-game experience is the only thing holding Cunningham back right now. He’s a future perennial All-Star.
4. Frank Wagner — Orlando Magic (G/F)
The highly-skilled Wagner has had a very good year on a Magic team with a lot of talent but in obvious tank mode. His play has stood out, from his cerebral approach to his ability to score.
Franz Wagner has scored 20+ points 15 times – the most by any @NBA rookie this season 🪄
28 PTS | 10-18 FG | 4-6 3PM pic.twitter.com/2elhUsVxze
— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) March 3, 2022
He’s been the team’s de facto No. ,1 option this season and he’s done it pretty well averaging 19 points over his last five games, and a sizzling 44 percent from three. For the season he’s averaging 16 points, five rebounds and three assists while shooting 47 percent from the floor and 37 percent from three.
5. Josh Giddey — OKC Thunder (Guard)
The Aussie has surprised the NBA and quickly become a fan favorite for his multifaceted game. Giddey won Western Conference Rookie of the Month again for the fourth consecutive month.
This season Giddey has produced a 13/8/6 slash line.
A recent hip injury has sidelined the 6-foot-8 passing wiz, but Giddey carried the bulk of the load for a young OKC squad while star guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was out. Giddey was surging up The Shadow League Rookie Meter, but with his injury setback he probably won’t have enough time to catch the likes of Mobley, Barnes, and Cunningham.
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