As the Raptors wrapped up their off-day practice on Friday afternoon, Nick Nurse called his team over to the video board to “watch a few clips,” which the team would have presumably expected to be some last-minute film room work.
Instead, Vince Carter, the 1998-1999 Rookie of The Year popped up on the screen with a heartwarming message for his soon-to-be company.
Going into the weekend, Scottie became just the third rookie in Raptors history to win the award, and the first rookie selected outside the top 3 to win it since 2017. As Masai Ujiri handed him the revamped 75th anniversary award trophy at center court prior to tip-off on Saturday afternoon, Barnes was greeted with warming chants and applause from his Toronto crowd.
Following the game, Scottie was asked what winning the award meant to him. He responded, “It was a goal of mine all year to try to win it but I didn’t want to overthink it or do too much. I just played my role, did what I had to do, and winning helps with it as well.”
And that, he did. Scottie led all rookies in win shares, at 6.6 on the season, even beating out the likes of LaMelo Ball, Jaylen Brown, and Zach LaVine in that category. Barnes finished the season averaging 15.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists.
Having picked up their first postseason win on Saturday, and with Scottie back in action, he’ll have a chance to continue his stupendous rookie campaign and make an impact in the playoffs. With Fred VanVleet questionable to play in Philadelphia for Game 5, Barnes may have a greater postseason role than he expected.