New York Knicks third overall selection in the 2019 NBA draft, RJ Barrett, is capable of much more than his summer league performance displayed.
One of the most productive offensive players in college last year, Barrett started his professional career in horrendous form. However, he finished Summer League play looking much more confident and capable on the floor. In his Las Vegas finale, Barrett posted 21 points, ten assists, and eight rebounds and had two consecutive double-doubles.
Electing to opt-out of the basketball World Cup and playing with team Canada, citing a calf strain, might be the most beneficial path to take given his NBA career. Ensuring he does not pick up any additional injuries is essential moving forward.
Instead of partaking in the basketball World Cup, Barrett joined fellow draft pick Ignas Brazdeikis for the NBA’s annual rookie orientation.
Barrett stated in regards to his summer league performance:
“I missed way too many layups [in summer league],” Barrett told reporters.
The Knicks signing several veteran contributors this off-season will help the young rookie develop his game and learn from more experienced players. Last season, the Knicks youth were forced to learn on their own as the veteran influence was minimal.
For a player like Barrett, confidence is vital, and that will be developed through playing time and leadership. As the Summer League progressed, so did his natural abilities, as he adapted to the physicality and strength of NBA-quality players.
“I felt like that got my mojo going,’’ Barrett said regarding the finish to his Summer League debut. “So just trying to bring that into training camp is going to be good.”
It’s expected that the Knicks will start Barrett in 2019-20, as getting him on the court will allow him to refine his skillset and develop much faster. However, he will battle constant rookie hurdles and will need to lean on his teammates at times.
Barrett was one of college’s best rim attackers and paint scorers, but the strength and size of NBA players will cause problems and force him to adapt. Developing a more consistent perimeter jump-shot will be one of the attributes Barrett needs to work on.
One thing Barrett and Brazdeikis both have, is the mentality to win and succeed. As rookies, that is all you can hope for.