Among the endless chatter of New York Knicks players and topics, there are few more smile-inducing than that of RJ Barrett.
The 6’6” small-forward is going into his fourth year and has improved his scoring output in every season, going from 14 a game, to 17.6 points, to 20 points last season. Despite the increases and the amount of blame Julius Randle justifiably shouldered for the Knicks’ struggles last season, Barrett did see significant drop-offs in efficiency compared to his second year.
He is now entering a hugely important year for his career, the final year of his rookie deal, and the season in which he can prove that he’s ready to take that next step into All-Star territory.
The strengths and weaknesses of Knicks’ RJ Barrett
Let’s start with the positives. There’s a reason people get so excited about Barrett and the numbers back up the Duke product’s talents.
On a surface-level look, he averaged 20 points, 5.8 boards, and 3 assists on 40.8% shooting from the field and 34.2% shooting from long range.
Splitting the season into two, the numbers also show that Barrett balled out in the second half of the season. It is a big part of what left fans feeling so excited about him at the end of the year.
Pre All-Star numbers per game
- 18 points
- 5.7 rebounds
- 2.6 assists
Post All-Star numbers per game
- 24.5 points
- 6.2 rebounds
- 3.8 assists
The elevated output corresponds with a conscious choice by the Knicks coaching staff to run more of the offense through Barrett in the second half of the season, as opposed to always going to Randle. That was a choice that was relatively forced upon them given Randle’s continued struggles last year.
Somewhat surprisingly, Barrett’s rebounds and assists numbers remained exactly the same over the past two seasons — 5.8 rebounds and 3 assists in both years.
Only Tyler Herro, Darius Garland, and Ja Morant averaged more points than Barrett last year out of the players from the 2019 NBA Draft.