New York Knicks fans thought 2022-23 would be RJ Barrett’s breakout season, especially since he signed an extension. He had an impressive finish to 2021-22 that made the fan base hopeful for what was to come, even after a season that resulted in the team missing the play-in tournament.
Instead, the young forward got off to yet another inconsistent start in 2023. On opening night in Memphis, Barrett shot 16.7% (3-of-18) from the field and 0% percent (0-of-6) from three. While he was able to bring up his field goal percentage, his three-point percentage continued to plummet. Barrett finished the regular season shooting a career-worst 31% from three.
He was able to up the intensity in the playoffs, but he could never get into a groove shooting from the perimeter.
Although he’s been off to a hot start this season, it makes sense why ESPN didn’t include him in its latest 25-under-25 rankings (subscription required).
ESPN leaves Knicks’ RJ Barrett off NBA 25-under-25 rankings
After a summer of work that included helping Canada secure a 2024 Paris Olympics berth, Barrett has been one of the Knicks’ best players in 2023-24.
He missed two games with knee soreness but is still averaging a career-high in points. It’s still early, but Barrett’s shooting the best that he ever has. In Monday’s win over the Clippers, the 23-year-old became the youngest Knick to record 5,000 career points.
Barrett’s looked far more comfortable on the offensive end. He’s making quicker reads that lead to better decisions. Without him on the floor against Cleveland and Milwaukee, New York looked lost. While that was a concern, on one hand, it was also viewed as a positive development in Barrett’s growth.
He’s long been criticized for not making the impact many thought he would after he was selected No. 3 overall in 2019. Some criticism has been warranted, and ESPN’s decision to leave him off its list is justified. The good thing is that these lists don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.
If the start of the season has been any indication, this will be RJ Barrett’s year. He doesn’t go out and compete with the hope of making a measly 25-under-25 list, but if he can keep it up, ESPN won’t be able to ignore him any longer.