No. 3 pick: R.J. Barrett
Fans of the Knicks were disappointed when things didn’t go their way during the NBA Draft Lottery. With hopes of landing the No. 1 pick and having the right to select Zion Williamson, things didn’t pan out. However, they will still be getting a Duke Blue Devil in R.J. Barrett.
This was a no-brainer selection for the Knicks. Many analysts said this was a three-player class, and they landed one of those players. Barrett will immediately slide into their starting lineup at the starting shooting guard spot and improve the roster.
Even better, Barrett wanted to be a Knick. While this wasn’t the plan many fans had when the regular season ended, it is a great match.
At 6’7” and 208 pounds, with a 6’10” wingspan, Barrett has the prototypical size one looks for in an NBA shooting guard. He brings excellent intangibles and a high basketball IQ to the table and will fill a number of roles for New York.
Barrett has developed into a solid creator and playmaker and continues to develop his ball-handling as well. Last season he averaged 4.3 assists per game — a strong number for a college player — and was even stronger when he played alongside a legitimate point guard in Trey Jones and in lineups that had limited spacing.
Barrett’s mentality, focus, toughness and competitiveness will play well in New York. The bright lights of Madison Square Garden will not intimidate him. However, there are some areas he needs to improve.
At the top of that list is shooting. Barrett is improving, but he made only 30.8 percent of his 3-point shots at Duke and 66.5 percent of his foul shots.
He averaged 22.6 points per game despite that, but his shot selection does need to improve as he sometimes played too much hero ball. That is something that will come naturally with more experience and playing in a more open game at the next level.
Consistency will be key for Barrett. His shooting consistency is what people will point to, but he also has to improve with it defensively as well. He has the size and athleticism to defend multiple positions, but needs to do it with more regularity.
New York is about as perfect of a landing spot for Barrett as there is. Given the current landscape, he should be provided as many opportunities as he can handle. The ball will be in his hands so he can continue developing as a playmaker, creator and go-to scorer.
If New York hits gold in free agency, then Barrett will be afforded plenty of opportunities without defenses keying in on him as the No. 1 option.
No matter what happens, he will be provided a chance to put up some gaudy stats. Expect him to be in the running for the Rookie of the Year award.