NY Knicks: Responding to RJ Barrett being left off ESPN’s “Top 25 under 25”

RJ Barrett, New York Knicks (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
RJ Barrett, New York Knicks (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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RJ Barrett, NY Knicks. Mandatory Credit: Frank Franklin II/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports /

NY Knicks: RJ Barrett belong on ESPN’s “List”

Let’s just get a few things straight. Anytime anyone makes a list/ranking of NBA players, there’s always going to be a debate. I love the discourse and different arguments that can be had talking about younger players and their potential outcomes, and there’s never going to be a perfect list.

If you gave me this list that ESPN created for their “Top 25 Under 25” without telling me what it was a list of, I would have no idea. It would seem like a random assortment of good young players. Based on the list they put together here, it doesn’t seem to be based solely on present-day production nor on future potential/ceiling.

Now in fairness, 2 of the ESPN writers actually did include NY Knicks’ RJ Barrett in their lists, but it ultimately wasn’t enough for him to make the final cut. I’m not sure what really was going on here, but let’s start with some head-scratchers.

Jarrett Allen? Remember, I am not saying anyone on this list is a bad player by any stretch of the imagination, but you slotted the 22-year old rim runner/shot-blocker as a better young prospect than RJ Barrett? Is there a world where NBA franchises are taking the rim running center over a 2-way player/secondary playmaker on the wing? The logic here is just bizarre – Jarrett Allen is a fine young player, but the idea that his value is higher than Barrett’s is… interesting.

Mikal Bridges being ranked 17th was also… interesting. Again, I am a huge Mikal Bridges fan. The 24-year old who will be 25 this summer has had a great season as a secondary option playing alongside Chris Paul, Devin Booker, and DeAndre Ayton. I would love to have Mikal Bridges on my team. What does he project as? Prime Trevor Ariza? Maybe Luol Deng? Again, those are great things to become, but Bridges takes just over 1 shot off the dribble per game. Let’s see where RJ Barrett is at age 24, 4 years from now.

John Collins? A great rim runner, pick and roll partner who’s become a solid shooter. He’s going to be a really good player for a long time, but I’m not sure I see him as any sort of essential piece of a young core. The league isn’t starving for players of John Collins’ skillset. There’s no playmaking and not much defense from Collins. I’d gladly take Barrett over him.

There’s also Collin Sexton, who plays a premium position as a point guard, but I’m not exactly sure if that position is for him. He’s terrific at getting to the rim, and in his defense, hasn’t had a ton of talent around him.

Sexton is not a great passer – his assists numbers (Barely higher than Barrett’s) come with a huge usage rate and he struggles to create for others. The defense… is nonexistent. Sexton ranks 167th/183 eligible players in defensive box +/- and I’m not sure there are many flashes or anything about his physical profile of anything to prove that he can get significantly better in that half of the game.

Anthony Edwards ranks 181st/183rd in the same category. Love Anthony Edwards as a scorer, not sure what else he will bring down the line, but he certainly has the raw tools to work with.

At the end of the day, we can debate even more players. Michael Porter’s non-existent defense, Tyrese Haliburton’s ceiling, or why Lonzo Ball made the list over Barrett. I personally think Barrett is an obvious choice to slot in around the 17-21 slots in the top 25 under 25.

A touted prospect since high school who has taken astronomic leaps in his game in just one season, it’s hard to imagine RJ Barrett not continuing to develop into one of the NBA’s premier wing players for The NY Knicks. Watching him play and develop – Where his game is at technically, physically, and mentally, and how he’s progressed already – It seems obvious that we’re looking at a potential All-NBA defender, who puts up 20-25 points per game, dominates the glass (Already does) for his position, and can even flirt with 5 assists per game.

RJ Barrett will just continue to handle the disrespect and use it as fuel. Let’s check back in a few years and bring the receipts.

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