The Knicks Seem To Be Counting On RJ Barrett Becoming A Star

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RJ Barrett #9 of the New York Knicks shoots the ball during the first half against the Utah Jazz at Madison Square Garden on March 20, 2022 in New York City.
(Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

 

The New York Knicks have been no better than mediocre for most of the last two decades, and their fans have had enough.

After making the playoffs following a fourth-place finish in the 2020-21 season, they won just 37 games and missed the playoffs last season.

New York took a step in the right direction once the offseason started by signing up-and-coming guard Jalen Brunson to a lucrative contract, something that was unexpected, as most thought he would remain with the Dallas Mavericks.

This week, the Knicks may have taken another step back to respectability by inking RJ Barrett to a four-year, $120 million contract extension.

There have been rumors that they would package him in a deal to get Donovan Mitchell from the Utah Jazz, and although they may still acquire Mitchell, it is presumed Barrett will remain a Knick for the foreseeable future.

With salaries expected to rise even more in the next few years, this may end up being a bargain for New York.

This type of contract puts the onus on Barrett to become a bona fide star and part of what the team hopes will be some profound success in the near future.

 

Barrett Has Potential, But He Hasn’t Fully Tapped It Yet

Before coming to the NBA, Barrett played one season of college basketball at Duke University.

While Zion Williamson garnered much of the national attention during that 2018-19 campaign, Barrett was a legitimate star himself.

He averaged 22.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game while helping the Blue Devils reach the NCAA Tournament.

A few months later, the Knicks made him the third overall pick of the 2019 NBA Draft.

Although the Tri-State Area was severely disappointed it couldn’t nab Williamson, Barrett would give the area some hope.

He averaged 14.3 points a game on 40.2 percent overall shooting and 32.0 percent from 3-point range as a rookie, but the following year, he tantalized long-suffering Knicks fans.

That year, he put up 17.6 points a game while improving his accuracy to 44.1 percent from the field and 40.1 percent from downtown.

But his efficiency fell this past season to 40.8 and 34.2 percent, respectively, even though he bumped his scoring average to 20.0 points a contest.

Consistency seems to be an issue for Barrett, as his numbers seem to fluctuate from month to month.

Against the Los Angeles Lakers in a nationally televised contest in February, he exploded for 36, eight rebounds, and five assists.

But in New York’s next game, he shot just 8-of-25, and he then followed it up with a 7-of-19 clunker versus the Denver Nuggets.

 

Barrett Can Become An All-Around Player

Although the former Blue Devil can become a very good offensive player, it’s his defensive potential that has Knicks fans hopeful for him.

At 6-foot-6 and nearly 215 pounds, he seems to have the ability to guard multiple positions.

If Barrett lives up to his potential, he and Brunson could form a very solid backcourt for years to come.





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