NY Knicks: Is this the best RJ Barrett we’ve ever seen?

New York Knicks, RJ Barrett (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
New York Knicks, RJ Barrett (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

Since 2022 began, RJ Barrett has been playing the best basketball of his career for the NY Knicks.

Before spraining his ankle, Barrett was playing at a legitimate all-star level.

From January 1st onward, RJ has averaged 22.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3.3 assists in 19 games.

Barrett’s play has been much needed, with the Knicks currently at 25-31 and in desperate need of a star.

The Knicks played their best basketball since 2013 last season behind the excellent play of Julius Randle.

With Randle struggling to produce at the same level this year, the Knicks have been without an offensive leader. RJ Barrett has looked like that offensive leader since 2022 began.

Do the NY Knicks have a legit star in RJ Barrett?

Barrett has had the ball in his hands more than ever before, with a usage rate of 28.6 since the new year.

That would put Barrett at 20th in usage rate on the season had his rate been this high all season.

Ever since Barrett has maintained this high-level of usage, he has put up better numbers than fellow Canadian star Andrew Wiggins, who became an all-star starter averaging 18 points, 4 rebounds, and two assists.

Barrett was also just flat out incredible in January, putting up totals that were an extreme rarity for someone his age that has only been matched by Luka Doncic and Anthony Edwards.

When the 21-year-old was first starting to surge, I put out a piece speculating if Barrett should become the team’s first option, which he probably should.

Julius Randle has had an excellent stretch lately, including a huge game against the Golden State Warriors that saw him put up 28 points, 16 rebounds, and 7 assists as the Knicks stunned the Warriors with a 2 point win at the Chase Center.

Despite Randle recently looking as if he is returning to form, he was never supposed to be the team’s long-term first option.

Randle has great abilities outside of scoring, such as his passing vision and rebounding.

Randle would be better as a guy trying to set his teammates up from the post or taking it himself while running the pick and roll with Barrett.

Randle would be better in this role as there would be less defensive pressure on him, and Barrett seems to have really found an ability to score at all three levels at an efficient rate.

Both Barrett and Randle fit better with RJ as the first scoring option, and it could help the Knicks win more games.

One thing is for sure, though, if RJ can keep up this level of play and improve upon it, he could genuinely become a perennial NBA All-Star.

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