Knicks fans put their Halloweekend plans on pause Saturday night to watch New York go up against Zion Williamson and New Orleans. Unfortunately, the start of the game was indicative of how New York would finish in an ugly 96-87 loss.
The night was summed up by Julius Randle (4-for-15) and Jalen Brunson (4-for-14) scoring a combined 24 points. Randle continued a disappointing start to the season, while Brunson couldn’t get anything going after a 31-point night against Atlanta on Friday.
For the fans who endured the pain to watch all 48 minutes, RJ Barrett provided a silver lining. Yes, the Knicks couldn’t have played a sloppier game, but Barrett scored a team-high 18 points (7-for-16) in 30 minutes. The 23-year-old has a history of struggling at the beginning of each season, but after three games, that seems to be an issue he’s leaving in the past.
Knicks’ RJ Barrett off to a much-needed solid start in 2023-24 season
Through three games, RJ Barrett’s averaging 25 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 4.0 assists on 48.6% shooting from the field and 50% from three. Perhaps what’s most impressive is that he’s shooting 84.6% from the free-throw line.
His aggressiveness from the playoffs has carried over to the regular season, he’s been a more efficient shooter, and he’s made quicker reads on the offensive end. Believe it or not, he’s been New York’s most consistent player. With the team returning relatively the same roster as last season, the Knicks need Barrett to make a leap. So far, he’s delivered.
Sure, he’s going to have his off nights, but that isn’t something that can be avoided. What matters is that entering year five, Barrett’s making the strides fans have hoped to see. If he can get Brunson and Randle on board with him, New York will have something.
While a 1-2 start is discouraging, it’s still way too early to make assumptions about what this Knicks team will/won’t be. Hopefully, the team that showed up in New Orleans won’t be the one that shows up in Cleveland on Tuesday, but this version of RJ Barrett can stick around.