RJ Barrett’s coach at Duke, Mike Krzyzewski, endorsed one of his star players as a fit for the New York Knicks in the 2019 NBA Draft.
The New York Knicks will not take their dream pick, Zion Williamson, who was the star of Duke basketball. However, his teammate, RJ Barrett, was not far behind in school, and the same will apply to the 2019 NBA Draft.
Barrett is in line to become the No. 3 overall pick, barring an unexpected result of a late pre-draft workout. His 22.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game contributed to an Elite Eight run, those stats will be built upon in the NBA.
The man who oversaw Barrett at Duke, head coach Mike Krzyzewski believes his former top commit will not just succeed as a pro, but ascend in New York, as told to SiriusXM (h/t The New York Post):
"“RJ will flourish here in New York,’’ Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said on his SiriusXM show that he hosted Tuesday in New York. “He wants to be here. He is so mature. He just turned 19 last Friday, but he’s been a part of the Canadian basketball program since [he was] a little guy, always played up.”"
Krzyzewski would know best after coaching Barrett for the past year, with the maturity level and potential fit to play under New York’s bright lights, which the top prospect himself has no issue with.
Plus, Barrett wants to play for the Knicks. In the age of player empowerment, this should mean something, especially since he declined to work out with the Memphis Grizzlies, who have the second overall pick.
Krzyzewski also plugged Barrett as a future star with the potential to become a “double-double guy.” Most of all, his versatility to play across a basketball lineup was praised:
"“This kid is a multi-dimensional player,’’ Krzyzewski said. “He would start right away. He has the potential to be a double-double guy. He’s a great defensive rebounder, and if he gets the defensive rebound he can push, and he can play one through four. Because he can pass, too. As he grows, there’ll be times in this kid’s career where the triple-double will happen more than once. He’s a star. There’s no question. Beautiful, beautiful kid.”"
A diverse use of Barrett can play towards David Fizdale’s old “positionless basketball” proclamation before the 2018-19 season. Finishing 17-65 won’t make that stand out, but with a potentially improved roster, maneuvering Barrett to showcase his skills in different roles can give the Knicks a different look.
Kevin Knox, at 6-foot-9, has some of this versatility since he can shoot, but lacking defense limits it.
If the New York Knicks take Barrett, he is just one piece towards a rebuilding puzzle. Maybe it includes a superstar signing this summer, but not acquiring one is realistic, making the Canadian standout arguably this team’s biggest name, and without playing one second in the Vegas Summer League.