HOUSTON — Following the 2021 NBA Draft, the general public believed that the Detroit Pistons and the Houston Rockets departed the Barclays Center with the future Rookie of the Year winner — respectively.
Nine months following the draft selection of Cade Cunningham and Jalen Green, the Rookie of the Year award went to Scottie Barnes of the Toronto Raptors.
Just one season removed from missing the playoffs with a 27-45 record, Barnes brought the Raptors back to prominence in 2022. The Raptors finished the year with a 48-34 record before losing to the Philadelphia 76ers during the post-season.
In addition to Barnes, the Raptors continued to get ample contributions from OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet. With Siakam leading the team in scoring (22.8 PPG), Toronto's trio of veterans averaged a combined 20.0 points per game.
It could take an additional year before the Raptors can re-establish themselves as championship contenders in the rugged eastern conference. But Toronto will be a solid playoff team that could spoil a team's championship aspirations in April.
Cunningham and Green joined Barnes as members of the 2021 All-Rookie First Team honors, alongside Evan Mobley and Franz Wagner.
Key additions: Juancho Hernangomez, Christian Koloko and Otto Porter Jr.
Key subtractions: Isaac Bonga, David Johnson and Yuta Watanabe.
2021-22 season series: Toronto 1, Rockets 0
2022-23 season matchups: Nov. 9 (Away) and Feb. 3 (Home)
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