Why Knicks’ Evan Fournier and RJ Barrett are an underrated duo

Adding talent this off-season was a priority for the New York Knicks, especially with a ton of cap space to spare and utilize. Of course, they would’ve preferred to land a big name with championship-caliber play, but instead, they added several players who can contribute toward a deep postseason run over a longer period.

Acquiring Evan Fournier and Kemba Walker injects talent into two positions that were considered weaknesses last season. While Reggie Bullock, who spent the last two years with the Knicks, played valiantly, averaging 10.9 points and shooting 41% from three-point range, Fournier offers a massive upgrade.

Not only is the French-born player capable of creating shots for himself, but he’s also a better three-point shooter, averaging 41.3% last season over 6.7 attempts per game. Bullock only attempted 3.8 shots per game from distance, showcasing the difference in scoring production.

Fournier finished last season with 17.1 points on average, 3.4 assists, and had a 56.5 effective field-goal percentage. He is far and away a better offensive player and even contributes more defensively. He will take significant pressure off power forward Julius Randle, as defenders simply can’t crowd the interior and force the Knicks to win with their shooting.

However, the pairing of Fournier and third-year player RJ Barrett could be something special. One of the most important aspects of sports is communication, and that assessment doesn’t differ in the NBA. Both Fournier and Barrett speak French, allowing them to communicate in a different language, which could give them a slight advantage over their competition, who can’t intercept information. While some might consider this a non-factor, playing off one another and creating shots will be a focal point for the Knicks, which will give them another element offensively.

Barrett, who had his best season to date during the 2020-21 season, averaging 17.6 points, 3.0 assists, 5.8 rebounds, and shooting 44% from the field, is looking to take another step forward this upcoming season. His three-point percentage increased to 40%, attempting 4.3 shots per game. All together, Barrett and Fournier averaged a combined 34.8 points per game.

The primary goal for both players is to improve their shots selection and creation for their teammates. Last season, Fournier posted a 37.2% rate for field goals made unassisted. He is not a traditional spot-up shooter like Reggie Bullock, which offers benefits to a team that needs to draw attention away from their best player in Randle.

Just the slightest advantage in communicating in a different language can be beneficial, which will likely improve the chemistry between RJ and Evan. Another interesting point to make is at Fournier’s assist rate has consistently improved throughout his career, and Barrett saw his average increase from 2.6 to 3.0 last season. If they can continue to improve in that category, they have the potential to be a fantastic scoring duo.

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