NBA legend Magic Johnson had high praise for Toronto Raptors' Scottie Barnes after the 20-year-old won the Rookie of the Year (ROTY) award this season. Barnes, who averaged 15.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists, has been essential for the Raptors this season.
Not only is he the only Rookie to make it to the playoffs among the top five draftees in his class, but Barnes impacts winning the way Johnson once did in his rookie year for the Los Angeles Lakers — which is why Johnson said he sees a lot of his game in the way Barnes plays.
“He can do everything on the basketball court much like myself. He’s big. He’s strong. He’s physical. He can make his teammates better like I was able to do and he’s a matchup nightmare like I was,” Johnson said via The Star.
Best in the class
Unfortunately for Barnes, his playoff debut was cut short due to an ankle injury he suffered in Game 1. The thriving Rookie was on pace for a triple-double debut -- he already had 15 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists -- before Philadelphia 76ers superstar Joel Embiid accidentally stepped on his foot.
Throughout the season, Barnes displayed the ultimate playmaker package where he used his physical gifts to get to the rim, knock down jumpers (he averaged 49.2 % from the field), and be a menace on defense while at the same time having a knack for getting his teammates involved.
It seems all the Johnson tape Barnes grew up watching (who he idolized) paid off as Magic gave the current Rookie the uttermost compliment.
A lucky place
No disrespect to Jalen Green, Evan Mobley, and even Jalen Suggs but Barnes finds himself in the best possible position. The Raptor is coached by Nick Nurse and, at the same time, is on a playoff team filled with veterans and scrappy players. This kind of luck doesn’t always happen to any rookie, especially those selected as high as the fourth pick.
From being complemented by his idol Johnson to winning the ROTY award and now in a team that’s making a playoff push, suffice to say that Barnes had the most successful year compared to his peers.