Knicks’ RJ Barrett open to new role off the bench

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Mar 29, 2023; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard RJ Barrett (9) controls the ball against Miami Heat guard Gabe Vincent (2) during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA’s annual media day saw teams across the league hold interviews for their residing stars. For the New York Knicks, every word is capable of being subjected to headline news. Especially when an inconsistent rising star like RJ Barrett is asked a difficult question.

Barrett was asked if he’d be willing to back Julius Randle at the power forward position, assisting the second unit alongside Josh Hart. The fifth-year forward shared with reporters that he was open to coming off the bench as a power forward if head coach Tom Thibodeau required that of him.

Could RJ Barrett come off the bench as a power forward?

All-Star Julius Randle is New York’s starting power forward. In response to playing behind Julius Randle, Barrett stated, “Whatever we need to do to win is what we’ll do… if that’s what I have to do, then I’ll do it. I’m very willing and glad to.”

The entire team chemistry suggests every core member has bought into what is in motion for the New York Knicks. This Summer during the FIBA World Cup, Barrett, and Josh Hart’s sense of urgency for their respective teams was very promising for what they will bring to the Big Apple.

A possible second unit of Barrett and Hart rotating the forward positions suggests the team could run a small ball lineup in stretches. A similar facet in the modern NBA’s best teams is versatility. A different approach is crucial to being the best of the best in the league. 

Building chemistry is crucial for the Knicks

Buying in and willing to win for one another is fundamental. Barrett’s quote suggests he’s all in, but nothing indicates that he won’t be the starting small forward this upcoming season.

With the loss of Obi Toppin, there will have to be a counter the Knicks have to opposing teams’ small ball lineups. Cleaning the Glass compared all lineups with at least 100 possessions played for the Knicks.

Randle at the center was experimented with and successful in minutes played, but 100 possessions were required. The versatility would equip the Knicks even more, and that is an added layer to put New York in the contending conversations. 

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