Remember when everyone thought RJ Barrett was a disappointment after his rookie season?
He was vastly improved in his second year and according to this article, he’s still working hard and it looks like he’s taken another leap. We hit the wrong link when we posted this but it’s fixed now.
There’s a brief video in here of him playing and while it is indeed brief and is a very small sample, consider this: on his three pointers, some of which are pretty long, he not only looks entirely comfortable but the ball never touches the rim.
It’s one thing to become a better shooter - anyone except maybe Billy King and Ben Simmons can do it - but learning to shoot a really soft shot is not the easiest thing in the world to do. Some people just have the knack but to learn how to do that relatively late is pretty impressive.
And of course Barrett is just 21 so you could easily say: late?
Well, yeah. He’s been playing at a serious level for at least seven years. He came to Duke as an accomplished and celebrated talent but as many things as he could do, he wasn’t much of a shooter.
And of course in his rookie year with the Knicks he wasn’t much of one either. Last year he was vastly improved percentage-wise but his shot didn't look as smooth as it does now.
What we’ve learned about Barrett is that the guy is seriously committed to improvement. And that tends to affect the people around you. He’s gone from a guy who was said to be tradeable to being a keystone of the franchise.