The Cavs, of course, have a rising star in Evan Mobley. The Raptors, meanwhile, have a very promising youngster themselves in Scottie Barnes.
Raptors head coach Nick Nurse recently took some time to talk about both players and explained what makes them special.
“I think they’re both really good players,” Nurse said. “They do a lot of things. They’re not just scorers. In fact, (that’s) probably down the list on the things that make them (notable) as players, both guys. So both are really good basketball players, all-around basketball players.”
Both Mobley and Barnes are having stellar debut seasons at the NBA level, and as a result, they’ve heard their names mentioned consistently in the Rookie of the Year race. Right now, Mobley seems to be the favorite for the award.
Mobley has had a huge hand in the Cavs’ success this season. He’s averaging 15.2 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game while shooting 50.6 percent from the field. On top of that, he’s already established himself as an outstanding defender.
Barnes, meanwhile, is averaging 15.4 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.4 assists per contest. He’s shooting 48.7 percent from the field and 30.9 percent from deep. Over his last 13 games, he’s averaging 18.8 points and 9.0 rebounds per outing while shooting 51.5 percent from the field.
Both Mobley and Barnes are contributing for contending teams, which makes their rookie showings even more impressive. The Cavs are 41-31 on the season, and the Raptors are 40-32.
The two teams are separated by just a game in the Eastern Conference standings, making their matchup on Thursday very important.