NY Knicks: Comparing RJ Barrett to 3 third-year breakout players

RJ Barrett, Paul George, NY Knicks. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
RJ Barrett, Paul George, NY Knicks. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /
3 of 4
NY Knicks
Pascal Siakam, NY Knicks. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports /

NY Knicks: RJ Barrett Year-3 comps — Pascal Siakam

No, I am not comparing RJ Barrett’s game to Pascal Siakam. Two very different players who play different positions and have very different skill sets.

There are some similarities in their situations.

The Toronto Raptors won the NBA championship in Pascal Siakam’s third season. The Knicks aren’t a championship contender but they are carrying the expectation of being a playoff team in the East. Not many people labeled the Toronto Raptors as NBA champions before they went on their run.

Pascal Siakam was an emerging player who played a sizeable role as a bench player in his sophomore season. Siakam didn’t have the draft status that Barrett did — Siakam was drafted 27th overall in his draft.

He was entering his third season looking to play an increased role on a playoff team. Among his teammates were Kawhi Leonard, Fred VanVleet, Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka, and Marc Gasol.

It was a balanced team of established vets, players in their prime, and young emerging players VanVleet and Siakam. 

It may have seemed liked a crowded frontcourt, but Siakam earned his playing time and jumped to over 31 minutes per game, and was instrumental in their championship run.

A lot of the skills that Siakam “flashed” in his first two seasons turned into consistent strengths.

There is reason to believe that Barrett won’t take a huge statistical jump because he’ll be playing alongside Evan Fournier, Kemba Walker, and Julius Randle. That may be true, but it’s within his range of outcomes to take another step in his game and be relied upon more as a scorer.