The No. 3 overall draft pick, RJ Barrett, has played 56 games in his rookie campaign and it’s time to wildly assess what his future can be considering he is the best young asset in the New York Knicks organization.
Kevin Knox continues to look lost. Frank Ntilikina is a good role player and can make an impact in short bursts but he is in no way a star (or even really a starter). Dennis Smith Jr is just, ya know, trying his best out there.
RJ Barrett is the only player that has shown real glimpses of star potential.
This is what Knicks writer, Ian Begley, wrote after talking to scouts and people within the Knicks organization about RJ:
“I don’t think anyone can predict whether Barrett, who was selected third overall in the 2019 draft, will become a star in the league. But people around the Knicks were impressed by Barrett’s consistent approach to the job and his work ethic.”
“Some scouts I spoke with were impressed by Barrett’s ability to impact the game as a rebounder and defender fairly consistently in his first season. Those scouts think that if Barrett can improve his perimeter shooting and continue to progress as a defender, he’ll have a long, successful NBA career.”
RJ Barrett averaged 14.3 points per game which was third among all rookies. The same amount of points Kristaps Porzingis averaged in his rookie season and according to everyone in the NBA media, Kristaps is a star and the Knicks should be arrested for trading the injury-prone asshole coming off a torn ACL.
And points were hard to come by for RJ playing with Julius Randle and Marcus Morris and Julius specifically, who RJ played 82% of his minute next to. Randle was addicted to backing into the paint directly into a double team before throwing the ball into the backcourt or chucking it at the side of the backboard.
Hs 14.3 points went alongside his 5 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1 steal in 30.4 minutes a game. He improved the Knicks win total from 17 to now 21. And damn it, I’m convinced it would’ve been 22 wins if Rudy Gobert didn’t burn the NBA to the ground.
Like Ian Begley reported, I’ve heard all season long about how hard RJ Barrett works. And not in a cliche way because yes, in order to make it into the NBA you need to get shots up in the gym. Apparently, my man has truly been busting his ass for years.
The biggest factor in his development is going to be stability. He’s played one season and he’s already had two different head coaches, two team presidents and a pandemic work stoppage. It doesn’t help that Leon Rose elected to keep Scott Perry as the GM for one more year knowing damn well he’s going to fire him and hire someone new in 2021.
Whoever the Knicks hire next needs to be here for at least the next half-decade. If you asked me a couple of months ago I would’ve said that Mike Miller has earned the job but let’s bring in someone who has won.
Not Mark Jackson or Tom Thibodeau but someone who isn’t a sociopath. I’ve always like Stan Van Gundy and his Dwight Howard Orlando Magic teams basically started positionless pick n roll basketball.
We also have to look at who Barrett is forced to play with.
If RJ is going to turn into a star then Julius Randle needs to be off the roster. Randle ranked 11th in the NBA in usage and 18th in turnovers. Pairing him with guys like Randle and Marcus Morris just totally erases him from the floor. RJ Barrett played 3,424 possessions last season and only 386 of those possessions were without Julius Randle and Marcus Morris. That’s fucking insane.
In a microcosm of his season, a wide open RJ Barrett being ignored by Dennis Smith Jr. and Julius Randle for an entire possession. pic.twitter.com/Y6DbDhb8Ya
— The Render (@TheRenderNBA2) February 25, 2020
GIVE RJ THE BALL.
The biggest hole in RJ’s game is his shooting numbers going .40/.32/.61 which uh, trash. Getting 4.5 free throw attempts is impressive but you have to finish when you get there. Only three rookies in the last decade have worse free throw percentages with Barrett’s amount of attempts: Ben Simmons, Elfird Payton and Nerlens Noel. Trash.
But it’s not impossible to improve from the free throw line. He has good shooting form and literally just needs to continue practicing it. As far as his three-point shooting goes, we’ve seen countless wing players improve from the perimeter especially in today’s NBA where shooting is a job requirement.
Will RJ Barrett become a superstar?
As long as the Knicks after 18 years of dysfunction can suddenly stabilize their front office and hire the appropriate long term solution at head coach while removing black holes like Julius Randle off the roster without draining their salary cap and giving away draft capital.
But the point is, RJ is not the problem. You do not need to worry about how hard he’ll work to become great. New Knicks president, Leon Rose, needs to create an environment where Barrett can thrive.
Long live future NBA MVP, RJ Barrett.