The New York Knicks have been an entirely different team this year under new head coach Tom Thibodeau, but without several key pieces, they would be dead in the water. All-Star Julius Randle has played a significant part in the success of the team this season, but his counterpart, RJ Barrett, should also be respected as a productive player.
The Knicks currently sit in the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference as they prepare to take on the Charlotte Bobcats on Saturday afternoon. If they can win their next two games and Miami or Atlanta lose, they can improve their ranking despite already having a guaranteed spot in the postseason.
However, this team is commanding attention and respect from opponents around the NBA. After being a pushover in recent years, the Knicks have taken on an aggressive style of defense, utilizing a hostile and energized style of play. Barrett raved about his current squad and how much theyâ€™ve accomplished this year so far.
â€œMost definitely, you can see thereâ€™s a different level of respect [for the Knicks],â€ Barrett said Friday on â€œThe Michael Kay Showâ€ on ESPN Radio. â€œTeams have to come in and bring their best, teams have to come in and play hard. Most definitely, you can tell that. We have a really good record at home, at the Garden, with our fans, and itâ€™s really tough to come in there and get a win. So you definitely can see that teams respect us a lot more.â€
One factor to consider is the influence of fans at MSG and how energizing they can be for the team. The Knicks, comparably, aren’t the most talented team, but their mentality and chemistry have seen them blossom into something different.
â€œMan, I think we wouldâ€™ve had an even better record than we do right now,â€ Barrett said. â€œThose fans at the Garden really get you going, itâ€™s really an incredible place. The Mecca of Basketball, best arena Iâ€™ve ever played in. I love the Garden and I hope that Iâ€™m here for the rest of my career.â€
Barrett is shooting 45% from corner-threes and has experienced massive growth in the shooting department. The Knicks are going to need him to play efficient and consistent basketball once the postseason commences.