New York Knicks: RJ Barrett can cement himself as an NBA rising star

RJ Barrett, New York Knicks. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
RJ Barrett, New York Knicks. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /
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New York Knicks
New York Knicks, RJ Barrett (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

Keys to RJ Barrett’s breakout with the New York Knicks

We saw some big jumps in his game last season, but now, Barrett is really learning how to play to his strengths in the league.

Someone like Barrett needs reps with the ball in his hands to continue and grow as a ball-handler and scorer.

Barrett was oftentimes the de-facto point guard at Duke. While he likely won’t ever be literally slotted in as a point guard in the NBA, who’s to say his playmaking chops and ability to get to the rim can’t have him becoming an elite secondary playmaking wing in the same vein as DeMar DeRozan or Jimmy Butler.

What Barrett has done remarkably well so far in 2022 is get to the rim. From October-December, Barrett averaged 8.2 drives per game, which ranked 4th on the team.

From January 1st to today, Barrett has led the entire team with 14.5 drives per game. 

This is how Barrett starts evolving into a superstar. He is fantastic at getting to the rim, and it opens up his shooting, playmaking, and all-around game.

Finishing has been a question mark, but as he’s gotten more reps, he’s been able to showcase more finishing moves and improve in that area.

The biggest growth for RJ Barrett last season was his shooting — Barrett shot over 40% from three and proved to be a great catch-and-shoot player, something that not many saw coming.

The thing is, he’s so much more than that, and the Knicks are starting to realize that just sticking him in a corner is not how he’s going to develop.

It’s similar to Kyle Kuzma’s monster season with the Wizards — Kuzma himself stated how the Lakers just stuck him in the corner as a shooter, which he was more than capable of doing, but it didn’t allow him to showcase his full game and get into a rhythm.

Players like Barrett need the ball in their hands to grow. Now that he’s getting that opportunity in year-3, he’s showing that he can easily be a multi-faceted, centerpiece of an offense who can sleepwalk 20 points per game.

The biggest question now is, can he sustain it?