Winner: RJ Barrett’s free throws
RJ Barrett said he worked on becoming a more accurate free throw shooter during the offseason, and that work has been evident in the preseason. He shot a perfect 9-of-9 in New York’s first exhibition game and 9-of-12 against Minnesota.
Did he change his form? No. As The Athletic’s Fred Katz wrote, Barrett said he got a lot of reps in (subscription required) over the summer.
"“I’ve just had this same form for a couple of years now,” Barrett said. “I’ve just been working on it, so it’s more natural.”"
Barrett was more aggressive in the playoffs than in the regular season, driving to the rim and shooting 76.9% from the free throw line in 11 games. He’s a career 70.9% free throw shooter and nearly matched his career-best of 74.6% in 2022-23 (74%). If Barrett can stay consistent at the line for the 82-game season, he could finish in the 78-80% range in 2023-24.
The 23-year-old rarely gets a favorable whistle, but if he continues to progress at finishing through contact and getting to the line, the team’s 2022-23 free throw average of 76.1% should increase.