No. 4: RJ Barrett should play less
At some point, math will prevent these recommendations from happening. The Knicks have to replace Obi Toppin’s minutes, and they haven’t signed any forward to the roster to do so. At the same time, they should probably reduce Julius Randle’s minutes….and RJ Barrett should play less?
This recommendation is based not in load management and fatigue, but simply on the reality that Barrett was a relatively poor rotation player for the Knicks last season. He played 2,475 minutes last season, second-most on the team behind Randle, and was a negative on both the offense and defense. His Box Plus-Minus was -3.1, worst on the team among all rotation players, and despite his heavy minute total, he lost the Knicks nearly a win over a replacement player.
Cleaning the Glass goes into more detail. When Barrett was on the court, the Knicks were 4.9 points per 100 possessions worse on offense than when he sat; on defense, they were a staggering 7.4 points per 100 worse, one of the worst differentials in the league! Simply put, if Barrett was on the court the Knicks were a disaster; when he sat, they were among the league’s best. His -12.3 differential placed him in the bottom 10 percent of all players.
That wasn’t a one-year development, either, as he was a major negative a season ago too, and as a rookie; only in his second year did he essentially break even. If the Knicks want to keep up in a competitive Eastern Conference and secure a top seed, they need to find a way to lessen Barrett’s minutes; or, better yet, use him as the centerpiece of a deal to bring back a star.