Charles Barkley challenges Knicks’ RJ Barrett after inconsistent start to season

Alexander Wilson
new york knicks, rj barrett

Heading into the 2021–22 season, the expectation was that RJ Barrett would take a step forward with the New York Knicks.

After enjoying significant progress during the 2020–21 season, Barrett had all the tools available to become an All-Star, if not get close to the achievement. Averaging 15.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, and shooting 40% from the field this year at 21-years-old, his season hasn’t exactly gone the way he anticipated.

Barrett has seen decreases in three-point percentage, sitting at 35%, down 5% from last year, and a reduction in overall points and field goal rate.

After the Knicks’ front office failed to bring in another superstar to aid in Julius Randle, they were heavily relying on RJ to take a big jump, but the unfortunate reality of his season has put them between a rock and a hard place.

Some are challenging Barrett to step up and take ownership of his role on the team, and after being placed on the Covid list last week, he hasn’t been able to mount any momentum.

Via Sirius XM radio, Charles Barkley challenges RJ Barrett to be a better player:

You can only win so many games on hard work. The Kemba thing clearly has not worked. So you really cannot say that they got better than last year. They just play hard, but they don’t have great talent.

I mean Randle’s a heck of a player, but who’s the second-best player on that team. I did not know Kemba didn’t have a lot left in the tank… To me he (RJ Barrett) has to be the guy to step up, and he hasn’t done that… But if they’re going to be any good, it’s going to have to be Barrett, he’s gonna have to become close to being an All-Star.

The Knicks need RJ Barrett to remain a consistent factor:

Barrett has the talent to become an All-Star in the NBA, but he needs to be more consistent as a shooter and defender. He has experienced a massive decrease in defensive efficiency, hosting a 112.7 defensive rating compared to 107.2 last year. He currently has a -5.7 net rating, seeing a decrease in assists/turnover ratio and a reduction of 1.2 in Player Impact Estimate compared to last year.

Offensively, Barrett hasn’t been the same as a playmaker, with 39.6% of his shots made coming unassisted, while he recorded 58.2% in 2020. RJ is best when driving to the basket with his left hand. Using his right hand has become a liability.

The issue with Barrett seems to be confidence-related, as he’s enjoyed several streaks of elite shooting, notably at the beginning of the year when he strung together five consecutive games with 20+ points.

Hopefully, Barrett hears the criticism and rises to the occasion to provide his team with a spark offensively and a bit more efficiency on defense. Increasing his energy levels and aggressiveness would be a good start.