Stock Soaring: RJ Barrett
If Jalen Brunson has claimed the top spot on the offense with both hands, RJ Barrett is coming for that second spot. He has scored more points in five games than Julius Randle has in seven, shooting a career-best from every level: 47.5 percent from the field, 44 percent from three-point range, and 85.2 percent from the free-throw line.
Given that his shot volume has stayed roughly the same, that translates to a career-best 22 points, just a tenth of a point behind Brunson for the team lead. He looks more confident scoring the basketball and is working in the flow of the offense much better. Last year, 42.4 percent of his two-pointers were assisted; this season, it’s 77.8 percent as he is cutting confidently to the rim.
He also is taking 48 percent of his three-pointers from the corners, up from 29 percent last season, and hitting a scorching 58.3 percent on those shots.
Barrett will cool off at some point, but the fact that he is taking smarter shots is an excellent sign moving forward. With defenses focusing on Brunson and Randle, he is able to find open pockets of space to score, and that will carry over even if he shoots a more modest percentage.
When you add in the best defensive rating of his career (a noisy stat, to be fair) and a career-best assist percentage, you get a well-rounded Barrett who may have benefited from his time with Team Canada this summer.