New York Knicks: Why They Should Keep RJ Barrett Long-Term
New York Knicks forward RJ Barrett is having a much improved season in his second year in 2021.
Last season he averaged 14.3 points per game, 5.0 rebounds, 2.6 assists, shot 40% from the field, 32% from three-point range, and 61% from the free throw.
This season RJ is currently averaging 16.5 points per game, 6 rebounds, 2.9 assists, shot 44% from the field, 35% from three-point land, and 73% from the free-throw line.
So it has been an improvement all around for the 20-year-old from Duke University. Barrett was the No. 3 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft and so he had star potential coming into last season.
His rookie year was up and down. Barrett had his nice moments but he also struggled at times. His uneven season led to him not being chosen for both the NBA All-Rookie 1st and 2nd team.
Perhaps motivated by the All-Rookie team snub, RJ has been more effective this season. Sure he’s had some rough moments and he still struggled at times from the perimeter which is still the weakest part of his game. But he’s had more efficient games and has been more consistent this year.
Along with the improved stats overall, he already has more games where he scored at least 20 points with 15 of them. Last year he had 13 games of scoring at least 20 points.
His perimeter shooting is still up and down but lately, it’s been efficient. Barrett shot 47% from three-point land in the month of February and has shot 59% from downtown in his last nine games.
And he has been more aggressive driving to the lane which is his biggest strength on the court. Barrett is crafty with his ball-handling, athleticism, and ability to penetrate. When he drives to the lane, he is a good finisher around the rim. He can also move without the ball and can cut to the lane and get open for easy layups and dunks. In Barrett’s good games, he’s done a lot of driving and penetrating to the lane.
His improved sophomore year gives Knicks fans more hope of him being a future star for the orange and blue.
Add to the fact that he’s only 20 years old, is another reason why New York should keep RJ Barrett long term and continue developing him.
The potential is definitely there. RJ has made strides in his second year and he along with Julius Randle are a huge reason why the Knicks have improved this season.
He is already proving to be efficient at driving to the lane, penetrating, and finishing. He draws a lot of attention from opposing players and the fact that he’s a lefty, makes him tougher to stop. RJ is a pretty good ball-handler for a 6’7 forward. He is a decent rebounder and will pass to an open teammate when he has to.
His perimeter game can use some improvement but just like his stats showed, RJ has been lighting up over the last month. If he can continue to stay consistent in knocking down perimeter shots, he will be even more unguardable.
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Barrett is also working on his defense as well but he has the long arms and his length to be a pretty good defender himself.
RJ’s game also doesn’t involve too much athleticism and is more fundamentally sound. So he can have a long NBA career and not too many injuries.
So far many of his potentials has been showcased especially this season. Once again, if his perimeter shooting and defense keep improving, he is a lock to be a superstar in the NBA.
Barrett is also calm and cool as a person and not a lot seems to shake him up emotionally. That’s really effective in a city like New York which brings a lot of pressure to many players.
Plus Barrett wanted to be a Knick even before he got drafted by the organization. He’s originally from Canada but he sort of has New York and Knicks ties. His father played college basketball at St. John’s University. His grandfather was a huge Knicks fan and showed RJ many tapes of the Knicks in the 1990s. RJ became a Knicks fan as a result and has not hidden his feelings of wanting to play for the organization.
So the fact that he is skilled and talented, he’s only 20 years old and his desire to be a Knick are the reasons why the Knicks should consider keeping RJ long term. It would be no surprise if he becomes the next franchise player for the Knicks.
The Knicks have improved this season and are in the middle of a playoff race. So they could be looking to trade for a big name player before the trading deadline on March 26. Names like Bradley Beal, Devin Booker, and Victor Oladipo have come up in the Knicks’ interest.
But the Knicks should keep RJ Barrett and build him up as a key future piece. He’s improved his play this season and at 20 years old, he’s not even close to his prime. The Knicks could possibly be getting something special here in the long run with Barrett.
Do you think the Knicks should sign RJ Barrett to long-term deal? Leave a comment below.
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