Scottie Barnes vs. Evan Mobley vs. Cade Cunningham: The key stats to know in NBA Rookie of the Year race
The finalists for Rookie of the Year have been revealed.
To no surprise, the three players up for the end-of-season award are Raptors forward Scottie Barnes, Cavaliers big man Evan Mobley and Pistons guard Cade Cunningham.
The No. 4 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, Barnes surpassed expectations this season with his all-around play. The No. 3 pick, Mobley played a key role in Cleveland’s success and was one of the more impactful defenders at his position. The No. 1 pick, Cunningham got better as the season went on, flashing his potential as a nightly triple-double threat.
Which one of Barnes, Mobley and Cunningham is most deserving of the award? Here’s how they compare statistically.
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Scottie Barnes vs. Evan Mobley vs. Cade Cunningham: Traditional stats
Barnes and Mobley’s numbers are almost identical across the board. The only category where one of them has a clear advantage over the other is blocks — Mobley (1.7) averaged twice the amount as Barnes (0.8). Their shooting splits are even on the same page.
Cunningham wasn’t as efficient as Barnes and Mobley, but he led all rookies in scoring with 17.4 points per game and trailed only Josh Giddey (6.4) in assists.
|Points per game||15.3||15.0||17.4|
|Rebounds per game||7.5||8.3||5.5|
|Assists per game||3.5||2.5||5.6|
|Steals per game||1.1||0.8||1.2|
|Blocks per game||0.7||1.7||0.7|
|Turnovers per game||1.8||1.9||3.7|
|Minutes per game||35.4||33.8||32.6|
|Field goal %||49.2||50.8||41.6|
|Free throw %||73.5||66.3||84.5|
Barnes and Mobley logged a similar amount of minutes and appeared in almost the same amount of games. Considering how close their per-game numbers are, it should come as no surprise that their totals are in the same ballpark.
Once again, Cunningham’s scoring pops, and he finished this season with the third-most steals among rookies.
Scottie Barnes vs. Evan Mobley vs. Cade Cunningham: Advanced stats
Guess what? Barnes and Mobley have almost identical advanced stats, though Barnes does hold a slight edge in Player Efficiency Rating (PER), Value Over Replacement Player (VORP), Box Plus/Minus (BPM) and win shares.
You know, depending on how much you value those sorts of things.
While Cunningham lags far behind in the impact metrics, it is worth noting that he doesn’t have nearly the same surrounding talent as Barnes and Mobley. He plays a different position and role, but Cunningham’s usage rate — an estimate of the percentage of team plays used by a player when they’re on the court — being in a different stratosphere speaks to that.
|Player Efficiency Rating||16.3||16.1||13.1|
|Value Over Replacement||1.9||1.5||0.2|
|Offensive win shares||3.7||1.5||-2.4|
|Defensive win shares||2.9||3.7||1.9|
|True Shooting %||55.2||54.9||50.4|
Scottie Barnes vs. Evan Mobley vs. Cade Cunningham: Accolades
Mobley and Cunningham were each named Rookie of the Month once this season. Barnes earned the honor twice, winning it in February and March.
Only Josh Giddey (4) was named Rookie of the Month more times than Barnes this season.
Not that it’s going to decide the race, but it’s another category where Barnes has a slight advantage.