The 2021-22 Rookie of the Year race is between two players. But will another player come into the mix?
The Rookie of the Year award is a prestigious award that allows a young player to separate himself from the pack. The player could be a part of a deep, talented draft class, but securing Rookie of the Year, gives them an advantage over their peers. And it proves one thing: that player is a star in the making.
Whether it is LeBron James (who won in 2003) or Kevin Durant (who won in 2008), most Rookie of the Year winners go on to have illustrious careers. And the 2021 draft class has players with great potential.
The 2021 draft class has a few players that are already making names for themselves. They are playing well and making significant impacts on their teams. But who is playing the best?
Here are two rookies that are favorites for Rookie of the Year and a few other players climbing up the ladder.
Scottie Barnes Takes Charge
Scottie Barnes is off to a good start this season. He averages 15.1 points and eight rebounds while shooting 48.9 percent from the field.
Barnes came into the league as a player known for his defense. Barnes is a versatile defender who can guard multiple positions. He has even received comparisons to Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green because of his versatility. But what’s surprising is his offense.
Vet move by the rook pic.twitter.com/dbgeNlD8qH
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) December 3, 2021
Barnes has surpassed expectations of his offensive game only a few months into his rookie year. He’s an offensive threat and has the makings of a solid two-way player. And as one of five Toronto Raptors to average double figures in scoring, Barnes will be a force (on both ends of the floor) for the Raptors for years to come. So keep an eye on Barnes in this Rookie of the Year race. He’s playing well and is arguably the frontrunner for Rookie of the Year, but another rookie may cause you to think otherwise.
Here Comes Evan Mobley
Evan Mobley has been great for the Cleveland Cavaliers. He averages 14.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists. Mobley does it all. He can score, he can pass, and he is a threat on the defensive end.
USC alum @evanmobley has joined Chris Webber and Michael Jordan as the last 3 NBA players to have 50+ assists and 30+ blocks in the first 20 games of their career! #USCtotheNBA pic.twitter.com/0cRPAmniR2
— USC Men's Basketball (@USC_Hoops) December 7, 2021
Mobley is the reigning Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month, as he was the first Cavalier rookie since Dion Waiters to do so. Mobley missed time due to an elbow injury, but it did not hinder him. He still managed to record 30 blocks in November (which is twice as many Scottie Barnes, the next closest rookie in blocks) and had at least one block in 15 of the 17 games he appeared in. He is a skilled player,and like Barnes, he has the makings of a two-way player. While Barnes is currently the frontrunner, Mobley is not too far behind. But could another player join the conversation?
Cade Cunningham Climbs the Ladder
Cade Cunningham was the first pick of this year’s draft. He came into the league as a college phenom drawing comparisons to Luka Doncic and Grant Hill. However, he started off a bit shaky.
Cunningham shot 17.9 percent from the field in his first three games. However, as time goes on, he is finding his game.
Cade Cunningham tonight:
He is the youngest player in NBA history with 25/10/5 and 5 threes in a game. pic.twitter.com/A6rHUQas5n
— StatMuse (@statmuse) December 7, 2021
Now, Cunningham averages 14.9 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.6 assists. He is showing flashes of the player we expected, and if he keeps this up, the Rookie of the Year race becomes even more interesting. So, don’t sleep on Cunningham.
The Rookie of the Year race is exciting, and whether it is one of these three players or someone like Thunder guard Josh Giddey or Pacers guard Chris Duarte, the Rookie of the Year award is in good hands.