Knicks: The 5 most important preseason stats fans need to know

RJ Barrett, Knicks.: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
RJ Barrett, Knicks.: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /
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Feb 27, 2020; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Knicks guard RJ Barrett (9) passes the ball against the Philadelphia 76ers during the first quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

3) RJ Barrett Free Throw Percentage

Another undeniable bright spot of Barrett’s rookie season was his propensity for drawing fouls. He was fouled on 14.8% of his shot attempts, putting him in the 92nd percentile among all wings.

It’s supremely rare for a rookie to get that kind of beneficial treatment from officials, and it’s because he simply earned the calls by getting into the paint and drawing the contact. His physicality put the refs in a position where they had to blow the whistle. But, remember Newton’s third law? RJ connected on just over 61% of his free throw attempts, landing him in the fourth (4th) percentile among wings.

In preseason, Barrett hit 13-of-15 free throws (86.7%). The question is: how sustainable is that improvement, particularly when the pressure builds? Granted, a 25% jump in free throw percentage is highly unlikely for the regular season, but it’s reasonable to expect a substantial improvement in this area. During gameplay, Barrett’s jumper has looked smoother and more rhythmic from midrange and he’s appeared much more confident and consistent from the stripe.

If Barrett’s improvements from both the rim and free throw line are legitimate, then, even if his three-point shot takes a while to come around, we may be looking at an efficient scorer and perennial threat to score 20 points-per-game.