New York Knicks: Winners and losers of the RJ Barrett pick

New York Knicks (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
New York Knicks (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

Who were the winners and losers of the New York Knicks picking RJ Barrett at No. 3 in the 2019 NBA draft?

On Thursday, the New York Knicks selected RJ Barrett with the 3rd overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. The pick was not a surprise to many, as many people feel Barrett is the first step towards restoring basketball glory to Madison Square Garden. After a weekend to process how Barrett will transition to the league and fit in with the franchise, this article will take a look at the winners and losers impacted by Barrett joining the Knicks.

Winner: Duke Men’s Basketball

By selecting Barrett third overall, Zion Williamson and Barrett became the sixth set of college teammates to be drafted in the top-three in the Common Draft Era. They’re also the second tandem from Duke to accomplish the feat, joining Jay Williams and Mike Dunleavy Jr. from 2002.

In addition to Williamson and Barrett, the Hawks selected former Blue Devil Cam Reddish 10th overall, making this the first time in program history Duke had three players selected in the top 10, something that has only happened one other time in the past 50 years when Al Horford, Corey Brewer and Joakim Noah were drafted from the University of Florida.

Loser: Frank Ntilikina

It’s no secret the Knicks were shopping Ntilikina throughout the draft process. New York was reportedly looking to receive a draft pick in the range of the early second round. However, the draft has now come and gone, and Ntilikina remains a Knick.

With the arrival of Barrett, Ntilikina will likely see his role reduced even further than it was last season. Throw in the fact that head coach David Fizdale has reportedly “fallen in love” with Kadeem Allen and it’s fair to wonder if we will ever see Ntilikina take the floor as a Knick ever again.

Winner: The Rebuild

Don’t look now, but the Knicks have quietly put together a quality core of young talent. RJ Barrett is just 18 years old, and he’ll join a roster that features Kevin Knox (19), Mitchell Robinson (21) and Dennis Smith Jr (21). That’s right on par with the average age of the post-draft active roster of 21. The youth is certainly a reason for optimism towards the future, but it only amplifies the need to round out the roster with quality vets.

Loser: Free Agency Push

Although free agency hasn’t officially started yet, it feels like the Knicks grand plans for the offseason are slowly but surely falling apart. The Knicks spent the entirety of the 2018 regular season clearing out cap space to try and land a marquee free agent, hoping for any combination of Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis and Kyrie Irving.

Now, Anthony Davis is a Laker and seems set to stay in Los Angeles long term. It appears the cross-town rival Brooklyn Nets have emerged as the favorites to sign both Kyrie and Durant, putting the Knicks at risk of striking out entirely on their initial plans.

With oodles of cap space still to play with, it will be fascinating to see how the Knicks choose to round out their roster. The younger players could certainly benefit from proven vets that could come in and relieve some pressure, but it’ s imperative New York doesn’t panic and blindly throw max money at the first person to walk through the door. The Knicks need to find the right players to put around Barrett and re-establish the winning culture.

Winner: The Knicks

It seems obvious, but the Knicks were one of the biggest beneficiaries of the RJ Barrett pick. For once, a gift fell into the franchise’s lap and they didn’t appear to screw it up. The James Dolan-era of Knicks basketball has been marred by dysfunction and inadequacy. His management of both current and former players has tarnished the Knicks reputation throughout the league and led New York straight to the bottom of the standings.

Any chance the Knicks have had at landing their franchise player, they have always found a way to screw it up. After trading for Carmelo Anthony and snapping the franchise’s longest playoff drought ever, the front office ultimately forced Carmelo Anthony out of town. Kristaps Porzingis was drafted a couple of seasons later, but demanded to be traded after constant issues with the team’s staff, namely Phil Jackson. Things should potentially be different this time around with Barrett, whose youthful, joyous personality exemplifies everything missing with the Knicks culture.

Per the New York Post, When general manager Scott Perry was asked about Barrett’s pre-draft workout, he said, “[Barrett] came in and won our building over.” The report added that New York rejected multiple offers because they believe Barrett has All-Star potential, and the Canadian standout’s play certainly backs up the notion.

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In his lone season at Duke, Barrett averaged more assists per game than point guards: Coby White, Darius Garland and Carson Edwards. He also contributed 7.6 rebounds per game, better than other lottery picks De’Andre Hunter, Jaxson Hayes and PJ Washington. All the Knicks had to do with the third pick was not screw it up, and for now it seems like they may have capitalized and found their franchise player of the future.