RJ Barrett suited up for a Canadian team filled with NBA-caliber talent, such as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Dillon Brooks, and Kelly Olynyk.
Many fans and analysts predicted they would be a threat to make some noise in the tournament, although expectations were partially tempered when it was announced that notable Canadians Andrew Wiggins and Jamal Murray would not play in the World Cup.
This essentially guaranteed that Barrett would become one of the team’s top options and would decide how far they’d go.
While Canada didn’t win it all, they defeated the United States in the third-place game to secure a bronze medal. This was the country’s first-ever FIBA World Cup podium finish.
By making it out of the tournament’s initial group stage, Canada also clinched a spot in the upcoming Summer Olympics for the first time since 2000.
Barrett was second on the team in both scoring and rebounding, averaging 16.8 points and 5.0 boards per game. He also recorded the sixth-most points of any player in the tournament.
He shot 45% from the field and just over 37% from three, an encouraging sign given the fact that he attempted 6.4 long-range shots each night.
These numbers don’t even include his exhibition play, where he dropped 31 points on an absurd 13-for-14 shooting against the eventual gold medal-winning German national team.
He looked stronger on his drives, routinely bullying defenders in the paint to create separation for his left-handed finishes. His one-on-one defense was also improved, guarding players such as Luka Doncic, Anthony Edwards, and Franz Wagner throughout the team’s international schedule.
Barrett wasn’t perfect, as he started 3-for-10 on free throws before connecting on 14 of his final 17. His passing numbers were also low, finishing with just one more assist than turnover.
However, his ability to take on a leadership role at 23 years old and help lead his country to its best finish in decades is highly commendable. Given his efficient scoring output and active defense, his World Cup performance was excellent.