Knicks’ RJ Barrett’s continuing struggles are becoming a cause for concern

RJ Barrett, New York Knicks
Nov 25, 2022; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard RJ Barrett (9) warms up before a game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

New York Knicks forward RJ Barrett continued his rough patch with another lousy performance on Friday night, shooting just 6-22 from the field with a team-high three turnovers and -6 plus/minus in the Knicks’ 132-129 overtime loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.

This inefficient night from the fourth-year Duke product continues what has been an ominous stretch of games that has been extremely tough for Knicks fans to watch.

Over his last seven games, Barrett is putting up atrocious shooting splits, at 31.6% from the field and 16.7% from 3. This woeful slump has got many Knicks fans rightfully concerned about his performance after setting high expectations for him after a scorching finish last season.

Knicks’ RJ Barrett is making poor in-game decisions

One of the things that made Barrett so productive was his sheer confidence that he put on display on the court on numerous occasions last season. Despite his personal confidence remaining unfazed, many Knicks fans are feeling less confident due to his recent decision-making.

Barrett has made a fair share of questionable decisions when he has the ball in his hands during this recent stretch.

Barrett lately has had a tendency to force the ball inside the paint by going up with heavily smothered layups that have been coming up short. On Friday against Portland, he went just 5-for-14 in the paint, according to Fred Katz of The Athletic, an astonishingly bad mark from such close range.

Barrett’s shooting efficiency from outside has also substantially reduced, as it feels like every jumper he is shooting from all spots on the court are falling short.

Barrett has also been careless with the ball of late, averaging an abysmal 2.4 TPG over his last seven games, recording at least one turnover in every game during that stretch.

He has made bad reads with his passes and has been sloppy when dribbling the ball, which has killed the Knicks’ ball movement in possessions.

This recent stretch of abysmal play from Barrett has many wondering if it is time to lessen his shot diet, as he has averaged 16.3 FGA per game over the seven-game slide.

When Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau was asked about Barrett’s volume during his postgame press conference on Friday, he said that Barrett looked to be playing the foul game rather than going to his strength.

“On a lot of the drives I thought in the first half he was looking to draw fouls instead of just attack the rim.”

Tom Thibodeau on RJ Barrett’s struggles in Friday night’s loss

Evidently, Thibodeau has noticed Barrett have more selfish moments on the court recently.

Thibodeau spoke to reporters about Barrett’s treacherous slide and how he can build off of his recent inconsistencies postgame on Friday.

“[RJ Barrret] got to trust the process of working your way through things. Get in the gym, put in the extra work. That’s all you can do.”

Tom Thibodeau on RJ Barrett’s recent struggles

RJ Barrett and the Knicks will look to turn things around when they take on the Memphis Grizzlies for a Sunday evening showdown at Madison Square Garden.

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