Somehow, four years have passed since the New York Knicks selected RJ Barrett with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. He’s had his fair share of ups and downs, but after a promising playoff performance and a productive offseason, fans hope he’ll be able to put it all together in his fifth season.
Barrett’s biggest issue is his consistency, and in the past four years, he’s had a slow start to the season. Part of the reason for his slow start in 2022 can be attributed to him taking it easy before signing his extension, which most NBA players do when money’s on the line.
He should still be on a high entering 2023-24 after helping Canada secure a trip to the 2024 Olympics, beating Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart in the process.
Barrett shot 37.3% from three for Canada at the World Cup, an improvement from the 31% he shot in 2022-23 for the Knicks. The team struggled from deep in the playoffs and added Donte DiVincenzo in free agency to address that need. New York doesn’t need Barrett to become a knockdown three-point shooter, although that’d be nice, but instead, someone who can hit shots consistently.
Fran Fraschilla, a scout and college basketball analyst, spoke to The New York Post about what he believes is keeping Barrett from going from a role player to an All-Star:
"“Going back to his high school days, he’s pretty much reaching the potential that he has,” Fraschilla told The Post. “He’s playing the way I thought he would always play. The athleticism, competitiveness, confidence level and ability to get to the lane is everything he’s done since the time he was 15 years old. The one thing that separates him from being an above-average NBA player to being an All-Star is inability to consistently make 3-point shots. Because that holds him back. It makes him a little easier to guard.”"
Fran Fraschilla says RJ Barrett could hit All-Star level with consistent three-point shot
RJ Barrett has shown fans flashes of the player they want him to be, like when he hit a game-winning three against the Celtics on Jan. 6, 2022. He’s always had the clutch gene.
In his second season in New York that was interrupted by the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, he shot 40.1% from three on 4.3 attempts per game. Since then, Barrett’s three-point percentage has dropped from 34.2% in 2021-22 to 31% last season.
There were high hopes he’d be an All-Star in 2022-23 after signing his extension, but he was far from being considered an injury replacement. If he can become a consistent threat as the Knicks’ third option, it would benefit his career, help relieve pressure off Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle, and open the offense up.
Preseason basketball isn’t always the best indication of how things will go in the regular season, but nonetheless, RJ Barrett will be a player fans monitor closely. For a team that made minor moves over the offseason, the forward will be critical to what will hopefully be a deep playoff run.