After last year, former Duke star RJ Barrett was in a bit of limbo with New York, and the Knickerbockers clearly considered trading him to Utah as part of a package for Donovan Mitchell. That didn’t work out and Mitchell ended up with Cleveland and Barrett ultimately signed a big extension with the Knicks.
Instead of being a triumph for Barrett though, this season has been a bit of a slog. His scoring is down and injuries and illness have been frustrating. The clearest evidence of this was perhaps a dust-up with teammate Obi Toppin, a guy Barrett is reportedly close to (indeed after the game, the two were laughing and buddy-buddy again).
But it’s bound to have been a frustrating season. However, success is its own reward and the Knicks are in the playoffs and they’re looking better than they have for a few years. So what has Barrett learned?
“This season just taught me how many good players you can have on a team and it still works, and everybody’s still effective...That’s something that is great. It feels good to be just on this team with so many players who can play well on any given night and bring anything to the table. I think it makes our team just so deadly. That’s what I take from the season, and just like continuing to stick with it.”
In other words, unlike a lot of NBA prima donnas, Barrett is about winning, which makes him really valuable.