Will Knicks’ RJ Barrett prove NBA executives wrong this season?

After the New York Knicks and Utah Jazz were unable to come to an agreement on a trade for Donovan Mitchell, New York’s front office opted to sign RJ Barrett to a four-year, $120 million extension. With Mitchell now on the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Knicks are moving forward under the direction of Barrett.

Barrett, who turned 22 in June, is entering his fourth season in the NBA. He’s steadily improved each year, and last season, he averaged 20 points in 70 contests. With New York signing Jalen Brunson in free agency, Barrett’s numbers are expected to improve now that an actual point guard will be running the team’s offense.

After the 2021-22 season came to an end, Barrett said that his goal for the upcoming season is to earn his first All-Star nod. There’s reason to believe that could happen, although being that RJ’s on the Knicks, many people are doubting him. However, New York fans know what Barrett’s capable of and expect to see him fully take over in 2022-23.

Ahead of the new season, 15 NBA executives were asked by HoopsHype to rank their top five players under the age of 25 to build around. HoopsHype used their responses to rank the top 14 players mentioned. Unsurprisingly, RJ wasn’t included on the list, but perhaps at the end of the 2022-23 season, those same executives will be rethinking their rankings.

RJ Barrett will have the prime opportunity to prove himself with Knicks in 2022-23

Here’s the result of HoopsHype’s poll:

  1. Luka Doncic (23)
  2. Jayson Tatum (24)
  3. Ja Morant (23)
  4. Evan Mobley (21)
  5. Anthony Edwards (21)
  6. Zion Williamson (22)
  7. Scottie Barnes (21)
  8. LaMelo Ball (21)
  9. Trae Young (23)
  10. Darius Garland (22)
  11. Cade Cunningham (20)
  12. Jalen Green (20)
  13. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (24) and Tyrese Haliburton (22)

One can argue about how players were ranked, such as having Mobley in the top four, but Barrett’s name being excluded makes sense (for now). He’s mentioned that he wants to help lead New York back to the playoffs, and if he’s able to do that in a stacked Eastern Conference, that’d be one way to prove that he’s worthy of building a team around.

There’s been a lot of talk surrounding the Knicks this offseason, and with Mitchell joining an Eastern Conference rival, New York’s once again found itself as the brunt of people’s jokes.

The Knicks should perform better than they did last season, and as mentioned, Brunson will play a large role in that. But it’ll be Barrett who will be leading the way. It may seem like he’s under a lot of pressure, but he’s expressed multiple times that he doesn’t feel pressure. To be successful in a place like New York, a mindset like RJ’s is vital.

With training camp set to begin in less than two weeks, the Knicks are being overlooked entering the new season, but that isn’t something that fans should be concerned about. However, with Barrett’s extension solidifying him as the face of the franchise, Barrett and New York may end up surprising a lot of people (including the NBA executives that were polled).

Prepare yourself for the year four version of RJ Barrett. Don’t say that we didn’t warn you.