Knicks: RJ Barrett shines in ugly preseason loss to Detroit

RJ Barrett Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
RJ Barrett Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

RJ Barrett provided promise in an otherwise ugly New York Knicks preseason game.

The New York Knicks fell to the Detroit Pistons in their second game of the preseason last night, losing 99-91. With an overall ugly showing from both sides, this game personally left me wondering if the lack of fluidity shown was due to the rust of not having played in nine months, or if it was because these are two of the worst overall rosters in the NBA? Only time will tell.

However, not all was bleak for the Knicks. RJ Barrett, who many fans are hoping will have a breakout season, showed out and lead all scorers with an efficient 25 points on 10-17 shooting from the field and 4-5 from the line. In an otherwise hard to watch game, Barrett was a pleasure to see, especially if you’re one of the people hoping for him to take a leap this year.

Sure, it wasn’t a flawless individual game, but absolutely no one was expecting it to be. RJ had 4 turnovers to 2 assists, made just one of his five three-point attempts, and blew a wide-open layup on the fastbreak, but this isn’t much to lose sleep over. If he hits just 1 more three, he’s sitting at a clean 40 percent on the night, and the overall stat line looks that much better. I truly find it funny how one singular miss can skew the outlook on a player’s performance like that.

But boy, the ugly aspects of this game were just that, ugly. Despite saying that he’d be switching things up throughout the preseason, Tom Thibodeau rolled out the same starting five as he did in the first game, going with a lineup of Elfrid Payton/Alec Burks/RJ Barrett/Julius Randle/Nerlens Noel. This decision was made to the dismay of many fans due to its lack of shooting ability or inclusion of young players, and I totally get it. The shooting was actually so minimal that the Pistons started playing a zone defense early in the first quarter, and it was WORKING.

I guess what I’m trying to say is: What’s the point of not using these meaningless exhibition games to try things out? We have now completed two full preseason games and still haven’t seen any playing time from guys like Ignas Brazdeikis or Omari Spellman, a couple of young players who could potentially be valuable assets to a rebuilding team.

Rather than having them collect dust on the sideline, why not just throw them in a lineup to see how things play out? What do you have to lose? Oh right, literally nothing. But we do have to see how Elfrid Payton and Julius Randle fit together, as if the hundreds of minutes they shared together on the court last year just wasn’t enough.

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I am obviously in no way losing hope on Thibs this quickly, but I seriously don’t get the line of thinking for these rotations throughout the first two outings. Especially when we saw how RJ Barrett, a player the Knicks should be looking to form their lineups around, performed with little-to-no spacing in his rookie campaign. It should be interesting to see how the lineup is adjusted when Austin Rivers comes back from injury and to find out who will lose minutes, but if this team is anything like the Knicks of the past, I have a pretty good feeling who it will be.