NY Knicks: How RJ Barrett can lead NY to Postseason victories

RJ Barrett, NY Knicks (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
RJ Barrett, NY Knicks (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

It’s official! The NY Knicks will make their first postseason appearance since the 2012-2013 squad led by Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudamire, Tyson Chandler, and Jason Kidd.

Even more astoundingly, this chance at bonus basketball will not come through the newly instituted play-in tournament.

At the beginning of the season, a scrappy Knicks team clawing their way to a play-in berth would have felt like a win.

Fast forward several months, and the upstart New York crew finds themselves with a 41-31 record and sitting in the #4 seed with home-court advantage in the first round.

As the postseason approaches, I’ve recently written about what stars like Derrick Rose and Julius Randle bring to the table.

Today, let’s have a look at another key talent: RJ Barrett.

Here are three skills that Barrett has that will translate well to the postseason.

His Shooting

Barrett was a noticeably poor three-point shooter during his rookie campaign.

After entering the league with questions around his shooting consistency, the former Duke star drew concerns by posting a 32% clip three behind the three-point line.

However, Barrett has made clear strides in his sophomore season. He is currently making 40% of his shots from range (on 4.3 attempts per game). He has also shown better consistency with his midrange jumper this season.

RJ Barrett can lead the NY Knicks to a victorious postseason

This will be a critical skill for the Knicks’ postseason run.

The PG tandem of Rose, Elfrid Payton, and Frank Ntilikina are all sub-par shooters. Additionally, the Knicks will employ either Nerlens Noel or Taj Gibson at their center position for most of their games.

Both are dinosaurs in a league defined by big men who can stretch the floor.

This leaves Randle, Barrett, and SG Reggie Bullock as the primary sources of shooting and floor spacing. If any of these three players fail to draw the attention of their defenders while behind the three-point arc, it will cause a massive spacing issue for the Knicks’ offense.

This would have been a potential disaster with the 2020 version of Barrett on the floor. This season, however, should be a different story.

His Point Guard Skills

While head coach Tom Thibodeau does employ a traditional center, his Knicks do show signs of adapting to the modern NBA in one clear way: multiple ball handlers.

Traditionally, a team’s point guard would take on the majority of the ball-handling duties. However, the Knicks, like many other franchises, have a multitude of options.

Randle is skilled at initiating the offense. Rose, obviously, is a rock-solid option. Barrett also brings a ball-handling and passing skillset that you may not expect from a player of his size and position.

He has the handling skills to consistently bring the ball up the court and the court vision (3 assists per game) to help set up teammates for success.

With the defense and level of intensity at its highest level, it will be a luxury to have multiple players to take pressure off of Rose and company.

The Two-Way Abilities

The former #3 overall pick does not seem to get enough praise for his two-way skills.

Barrett is the second-leading scorer (17.5 points per game) on a really good New York team. He is also a key starter on the league’s stingiest defense (the Knicks allow a league-low 104.9 points per game).

His ability to affect both ends of the court has drawn comparisons to Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler, who is commonly considered to be one of the best two-way players in the NBA.

The stakes will be higher than ever in the postseason. Every possession will be critical. Having players who can come up with a big stop and hit important shots could be the difference between a first-round exit and an extended playoff run.

How do you think RJ Barrett will respond to his first taste of postseason basketball?

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