RJ Barrett came into the NBA from Duke as #3 pick and was elated to join his favorite team, the New York Knicks.
His first season was up-and-down as rookie seasons tend to be. How’s his second season going?
Well, still a bit of up-and-down.
He’s improved his discretion and is making much smarter plays in general. His playmaking and defense are praised here, but he is still not shooting as well as he might.
His overall stats are fine: he’s averaging 16.3 ppg, 7.4 rpg and 3.4 apg. He’s versatile, which is a major plus and the rebounding in particular is impressive for a guard.
His efficiency is not. Barrett does well around the basket, hitting 51 percent near the rim. According to NBA.com though, his midrange (4-14 feet) is just 21 percent.
It’s entirely possible that he could evolve into a role that doesn’t require much shooting. Philly’s Ben Simmons has never been able to score away from the basket. Barrett is too good of a player to settle for poor shooting and right now even his free throw percentage is mediocre at best, just 67.4.
As the article points out, he’s still a very young player chronologically and by NBA experience, since last season was a train wreck due to Covid-19. So he’ll probably get better and has the work ethic to do so.
In another note, as most Duke fans probably know, Steve Nash is his godfather - he calls him “Uncle Steve.”
Now the coach of the Nets, Nash is obviously pulling for Barrett but finds a conflict when the Nets play the Knicks. Here’s what Nash says about Barrett:
“He’s shown very much of what I thought he’d show. He’s an incredibly talented, well-rounded basketball player. He does a bit of everything. I think he will evolve into a great playmaker because that’s a natural ability for him that he doesn’t necessarily get to shine in at this stage of his career, and this stage of this team. That’s exciting for Knicks fans that he still produces, he’s versatile, he can score. He’s growing defensively. And for me, he’s a natural playmaker and that hasn’t been a part of his upside yet that’s highlighted. So for the franchise, that’s exciting.”
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