Where does Knicks’ RJ Barrett rank among NBA stars 22 and under?

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New York Knicks, RJ Barrett

RJ Barrett, New York Knicks. (Photo by: Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports)

With RJ Barrett’s recent scoring blitzkrieg, New York Knicks fans are once again asking themselves if they have finally–at long last–found the cornerstone player for a franchise poised to escape the lottery rubble.

Since Jan. 1st, Barrett is averaging 23.7 points (on 43.3% overall and 39.8% three-point shooting), 6.0 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game, per nba.com. He has four 30-point games and one 40-point game across that same time span.

Knicks fan reaction has ranged from plain ecstatic to downright exuberant. These reactions, many of which have been far from measured or reasonable (just speaking for myself here, honestly), got me wondering where Barrett ranks among his peers.

Analyzing where Knicks’ RJ Barrett ranks among other NBA youngsters

Essentially, if I were starting a franchise from scratch and could only draft someone 22-years-old or younger, at what point would I pick Barrett?

To keep me from researching endlessly, I narrowed the list down to the following 12 players:  Barrett, LaMelo Ball, Cade Cunningham, Luka Doncic, Anthony Edwards, Darius Garland, Tyrese Haliburton, Tyler Herro, Ja Morant, Evan Mobley, Anfernee Simons, and Zion Williamson.

I narrowed the list down to these 12 young players because every one of them has some claim to being a cornerstone of their respective franchise.

It’s time to address a few that I know some people will take issue with immediately:

The Heat reportedly refused to include Herro in a James Harden package. That says something about their belief in what he brings to the table.

The Pacers just traded for Haliburton and he has said publicly that they view him as their franchise player.

Simons has been on an absolute tear in Damian Lillard’s absence. So much so that the Blazers finally felt comfortable parting ways with CJ McCollum.

Garland was just an All-Star.

The rest on this list don’t really feel debatable to me.

While I love how jacked up Barrett’s recent play has gotten New York fans, it’s also important that we keep the conversation grounded in data.

So, to that end, I compiled three primary data points: fan votes (using responses to this tweet),  advanced data (combined average win shares, average VORP, and average BPM from Basketball-Reference), and the most recent media ranking of young players (using this Complex article).

Let’s kick this pig!

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