While the early favorite for the 2019-20 NBA rookie of the year award is New Orleans Pelican, Zion Williamson, New York Knicks rookie, RJ Barrett shouldn’t be left out of the conversation.
New York Knicks rookie RJ Barrett stated:
(Rookie of the Year) is definitely important. It is something I’ve been thinking about since I was a kid, so I thought the only way to do that is to work hard.
Barrett, who was selected third overall in the most recent draft by the Knicks, averaged 22.6 points, 4.3 assists, and 13.6 rebounds in his lone season with Duke. As the secondary option to Williamson with the Blue Devils, Barrett wasn’t able to fully show his potential. Without Zion taking over college basketball, Barrett would’ve likely been the unanimous first overall pick.
However, he fell several slots to a team that has prioritized building through the draft and youth players. The Knicks were unable to bring in any superstars this off-season, but they signed several veterans in Julius Randle, Marcus Morris, Wayne Ellington, Taj Gibson, Reggie Bullock, Elfrid Payton, and Bobby Portis.
While none of those names stand out like Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving, they will help the Knicks youth develop and refine their skills over the next season. Expecting the Knicks to be a playoff-contending team might be a stretch, but if Barrett can live up to his potential and produce enough to be considered for the Rookie of the Year award, they could be in a position to steal a spot in the postseason.
RJ Barrett will be a crucial cog in regards to the offensive production for the team, but the Knicks cannot rely on him to carry the squad in games. A priority moving forward should be to develop the rookies so they can play alongside potential signings in the future. The 6-foot-7 forward will hope to continue his offensive dominance in the NBA, but adjusting to the physicality and speed of professional players will be a challenge. Luckily, he has the mentors to help him reach his potential.