RJ Barrett is working to improve his shot following his first season with the Knicks.
New York Knicks forward RJ Barrett struggled with his shot during his rookie campaign in the NBA, something he has been working to improve during the offseason.
NBA trainer Drew Hanlen has been tinkering with Barrett’s mechanics to improve three main areas in his jumpshot.
- Pocket (elbow out)
Hanlen explained the adjustments while appearing as a guest on the Court Vision Podcast with Jameer Nelson and Ben Stinar this week.
“We’ve made three real adjustments,” Hanlen said. “The first one is posture: he was very upright, had no legs, and no fluidity […] Second thing is his pocket. His pocket was moved in. A lot of coaches like elbow in. The problem is when you have lefties, a lot of lefties don’t shoot with a good vision, you want a good vision triangle to see the rim with two eyes […] so we moved his elbow out […] And the third thing was he bunched up his hand on his follow-through a lot. And you see that a lot with guys who don’t have great touch […] We are just working on a clean, straight snap every single time, keeping his hand spread, so there’s more rotation on the ball and backspin.”
Barrett isn’t the first player Hanlen has had to move his elbow out to improve his vision toward the rim. He said he did the same with Jayson Tatum and Kelly Oubre.
The 20-year-old lottery pick, Barrett, shot 40.2 percent from the field this past season, struggling from both the perimeter (32.0%) and the free throw line (61.4%). His true shooting percentage, which measures shooting efficiency across all distances, was one of the lowest in the league for a player who shot the ball as often as he did.
For the Knicks, improving Barrett’s free throw shooting would go a long way to boosting his scoring potential. The rookie did an amazing job getting to the line – his 14.8 percent shooting fouled percentage ranked in the top 10 percent of NBA wings – but his corresponding FT percentage put him in the bottom 5 percent of the league.
Barrett still managed to average 14.3 points per game in 2019-20, despite his poor shooting and limited spacing in the lineup around him; two areas New York is expected to try to improve under recently-hired team president Leon Rose.
The Duke product was the third overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. The Knicks finished with the worst record in the league in 2018-19, but fell two spots in the lottery. Zion Williamson, who had an injury-plagued rookie season, and Ja Morant, the NBA Rookie of the Year, were both selected ahead of Barrett, who finished a disappointing 8th in ROY voting.
Barrett will soon get his first opportunity to work with recently-hired head coach Tom Thibodeau. New York will conduct voluntary workouts beginning next week with several of their young players, and perhaps a few veterans, expected to participate.