The Knicks are dealing with an RJ Barrett problem

RJ Barrett, New York Knicks
Jan 16, 2023; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard RJ Barrett (9) dunks the ball against Toronto Raptors forward Scottie Barnes (4) during the second half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

We have seen New York Knicks forward RJ Barrett endure slumps before, but something about this one just feels different.

What has been a rough week for the fourth-year wing reached its apex Saturday night against the Clippers, as he shot just 6-21 from the field and an abysmal 1-8 from three-point range and committed five personal fouls as the Knicks’ emphatic comeback was erased in a devastating overtime loss.

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Knicks’ RJ Barrett needs to regain his confidence:

Even though Barrett is averaging 20 points per game over his last five games, his efficiency has plummeted, shooting just 42.9% from the field and 23.1% from 3 in that stretch. He has also made just one three-pointer in his last 16 attempts from beyond the arc.

His defense has also taken a massive hit, as his defensive rating over his last five games sits at an ugly 123.8.

“Barrett has the distinction of being the Knicks worst defender, folks,” Clyde Frazier said during the broadcast of Saturday’s game against the Clippers. “They have all of these stats now, and he’s the worst guy.”

The massive setbacks have led to some unprecedented moments for Barrett. After being uncharacteristically benched for practically all of the fourth quarter and overtime against the Lakers last week, Barrett – who has almost always been transparent with the media – refused to speak after the game, stating to reporters, “I got nothing to say,” clearly displeased with what transpired that night.

Barrett’s confidence on both sides of the floor has taken a massive hit, and unfortunately, it has become detrimental to the team as of late, as the Knicks find themselves on a path where they are struggling to find consistency with winning games.

However, Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau has expressed that he still has faith in the young wing and that he will turn things around, and that was apparent Saturday night when he stuck with him throughout the fourth quarter and overtime despite his struggles.

“Guys are going to go through ups and downs,” Thibodeau said after Saturday’s overtime loss. “As long as they’re good shots, if you miss good shots, you got to keep shooting. If you’re not shooting well, just do other things to help us win.”

The Knicks are going to be looking to get back on track Sunday when they take on the Philadelphia 76ers on the second night of a back-to-back, and they are hoping Barrett will get back on track as well, as New York needs him back at his best now.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @DylanBacker_