Former Duke star RJ Barrett has carved out a niche with the New York Knicks and is a valuable leader and part of the rotation but he has developed an odd habit of starting slow, and it happened again this year.
That may be coming to an end as Barrett is heating up: he’s been putting up 21.1 points and hitting 39.7 percent on threes, 6.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists over his last 12 games.
Keep in mind that the Knicks went back and forth on trading him for Donovan Mitchell over the summer.
Barrett is somewhat controversial, not because of his slow starts but rather because he’s seen as a good player but not an elite one. What he is, as the Knicks have discovered, is a winner and a leader. You can trade for better talent but those guys aren’t necessarily winners and don’t necessarily lead.
Barrett has consistently improved with the Knicks and is helping to establish a winning culture. And it matters too that he wants to be a Knick, which isn't something you can say about everyone who plays there.
New York still needs a lot of help, but the Knicks are 7-3 in their last 10. We’re not saying Barrett will carry the team, but his character and desire will shape it. Good thing they still have him.