How Tom Thibodeau can help unlock New York Knicks young star RJ Barrett.
Tom Thibodeau has his work cut out for him as the 31st head coach of the New York Knicks. One of his goals is to unlock the full potential of the team’s young core.
Part 1 of the Thibs Files focused on how Thibodeau (Thibs) could unlock the full potential of Mitchell Robinson. It is no secret that Thibs has his eyes on RJ Barrett as his potential franchise cornerstone. While not discussing the roster at full length, Thibs specifically noted how both Barrett and Robinson have brights futures in his introductory press conference.
Barrett played in 56 games (55 starts) in his shortened rookie campaign. He has the potential to be a solid two-way player in the NBA, but his first season amplified many of his limitations on offense.
Yes, Barrett averaged 14.3 points/game and was one of four players in NBA history that averaged 14 points, 5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1 steal a game as a teenager during his rookie season, per Posting & Toasting.
However, he simply was not efficient scoring his points. He shot 40.2% from the field, 32% from three, and 61.4% from the field; very rough numbers for a rookie. His brute strength as a shooting guard presented a disadvantage as Barrett often tried to muscle his way into scoring two point.
Surely, work in the offseason can help address many of his shooting woes, especially those at the free throw line. An increased focus on confidence, footwork, and shooting form can only be addressed by repetition and practice in the upcoming months. However, Thibs, and Leon Rose, can certainly help aid Barrett into become a well-rounded offensive talent.
Barrett played solid defense as a rookie. Yes, there were occasions of ball-watching on defense, but that comes with the territory of being a rookie in the NBA. Thibs can easily work with RJ to become an above average defender. Thibs’ greatest challenge is unlocking RJ Barrett’s offensive potential. The combination of Thibs’ tacts + RJ’s will should certainly help jumpstart the development.
Here are 3 specific goals that Thibs should set to achieve with RJ: