The NBA regular season is almost here, which means the team previews have already started to flood the Internet. How will the New York Knicks look in an improved Eastern Conference? Is Quentin Grimes primed for a breakout season? How much will the Donte DiVincenzo signing help the Knicks?
Those questions have been asked, and there’s more to come. RJ Barrett hasn’t been talked about as much as he was last offseason, partly because he was fresh off signing a four-year extension. Fans assumed Barrett would have a big year, but he didn’t take the leap many hoped he would. Well, that is until the playoffs.
Barrett’s game plan changed after off-shooting nights in Games 1 and 2 of New York’s first-round series. He was much more aggressive, driving to the rim and getting to the line.
After a busy summer that included playing for Canada at the 2023 FIBA World Cup and securing a 2024 Olympics berth, Barrett’s fifth year in the league is primed to be his best yet. For the sake of his future in New York, it needs to be.
Will RJ Barrett take a leap for the New York Knicks in 2023-24?
In a 2023-24 season preview, NBA.com’s John Schuhmann listed RJ Barrett as the ‘1 player that must take a leap.’
"RJ Barrett. It’s fair to say that, after being selected with the No. 3 pick in the 2019 Draft, Barrett has had a disappointing first four seasons. Among 139 players with at least 2,000 field-goal attempts over those four seasons, only Dillon Brooks (50.8%) has a lower true shooting percentage than Barrett (51.7%). The Knicks don’t need the 23-year-old to be a star, but they do need him to be a more efficient secondary scorer."
The last sentence is the most important one. The Knicks have two stars in Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson and need Barrett to be a reliable third option.
New York has played only one preseason game, so it’s a small sample size, but it was encouraging to see Barrett make the right reads on the offensive end. He did shoot 1-of-6 from the field and 1-of-5 from three; however, he shot 9-of-9 from the free-throw line. The prior stat was one of the night’s highlights and hopefully a sign of what’s to come as he continues to be aggressive.
Barrett’s known for getting off to a slow start at the beginning of each season, but maybe he’ll surprise fans by doing the opposite in a couple of weeks when the real games begin.