RJ Barrett has been an above-average player for two years with the NY Knicks.
His sophomore season gave insight into the type of player RJ can be when he reaches his prime.
Barrett improved across the board on all major statistics. He answered the call, turning around a lackluster year one from behind the arc.
The ceiling still seems pretty high up (despite some opinions).
There are noticeable comparisons to be made with Boston Celtics’ star Jaylen Brown. Like Barrett, Brown was drafted more so off potential.
It took until Brown’s fourth NBA season to show what he’s capable of. Last year he reached an even higher level, making his first All-Star game and averaging a career-high 24.7 points, 3.4 assists, and 1.2 steals.
Brown had the luxury of being able to learn from veteran Celtics players in year one, not taking on a big load of minutes until his second season.
Barrett meanwhile was thrust into a starting role from the get-go.
However, both players started off their professional careers with timid tendencies, especially when it came to shooting the basketball.
Can RJ Barrett have himself a Jaylen Brown-like season for the NY Knicks?
The 2019-20 season was really the first season Brown started noticeably trusting his game.
He averaged 25 minutes or more in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons but was often criticized for not taking enough shots.
Then, in 2019-20, a switch inside of Brown turned on. He took nearly five more shot attempts on average and improved his points per game by over seven.
Brown’s confidence grew around his three-point game.
“I always felt like I could shoot the ball,” Brown told Boston.com. Last season, he connected on a career-high 39.7% from behind the arc.
He made those improvements while taking nearly double the attempts from outside than in 2018-19.
For fans of metrics like these, RJ Barrett looks ahead of track compared to Brown. He’s already posted a 40.1% clip from deep in year two, something Brown hasn’t accomplished in five seasons.
Barrett however has yet to add the three-point game as a strength. He was criticized for not making enough threes earlier in January by Elite Sports NY.
At the time of that article, Barrett was just shooting 18.5% from deep.
From January 15th and onward, Barrett shot an incredible 122-for-283 (43.1%). He struggled a bit in the playoffs, but as far as answering the call, Barrett picked it up and didn’t put it down.
The next step up for Barrett would be the confidence to start shooting more.
Being inserted into the starting lineup as a rookie doesn’t allow for quite as much learning but it should give Barrett the confidence that the New York Knicks want him to be a part of the future.
Part of the perfect future would be Barrett truly coming into his potential.
For next season that would mean averaging 20-plus points and making the three-point shot more of a priority.
Barrett can still use his mid-range game as his biggest threat, but it can’t be his only major asset.
Last season, Jaylen Brown took nearly 20 shot attempts per game. Barrett doesn’t need to make that giant of a leap, but something like 16 to 17 field goal attempts wouldn’t be a bad number to hit.
Of course, all of it has to happen during the flow of the game, but I have to think that a more confident Barrett wouldn’t stress the issue, but improve the foundation.
Where Jaylen Brown has come from five years ago has been quite the turnaround.
RJ Barrett started a few steps ahead, and in year three will most likely be where Brown was in year four.
Keep in mind Barrett also came into the league one year younger, so his prime is still multiple years down the road.
Next season the New York Knicks should see even more of what he is capable of.