Frank Ntilikina, Dennis Smith Jr, Allonzo Trier and a slew of guards saw minutes handling the ball for the New York Knicks last season. The franchise has longed for a lead playmaker for what seems like forever. Now that Coach David Fizdale has free reign to experiment with the rotation, he’s been able to see what each of those guys can offer. And now, with the third pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, the Knicks have given Fiz the promising ‘do it all’ 6’7″ forward from Duke, R.J. Barrett.
Coming off 22.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game in college, Barrett seems poised to be a star at the next level. His versatility on offense and length on defense will be a plus for any team, especially one that has many voids to fill. After trading Kristaps Porzingis, the Knicks essentially forfeited all ‘old’ energy and looked to fill the roster with new blood. The process of searching for talent started with playing all the young guys huge minutes and obtaining elite young talent in the draft.
Not only are Knicks fans ecstatic, but Barrett’s Godfather and Hall of Famer Steve Nash wasn’t shy about his excitement either:
Just sitting here telling anyone who’ll listen that my godson is on tv. About to get drafted. Probably the Knicks. No big deal.
— Steve Nash (@SteveNash) June 20, 2019
Barrett’s height and length are imperative for what majority of the league seeks in switchability on defense. His basketball IQ and playmaking ability shined bright on some of the biggest stages at the college level. With improved spacing in the NBA, the driving lanes will be wide open for him to operate.
One of the biggest areas of opportunity for Barrett will be his three-point shooting. Although he shot just 30.8 percent from deep in college, we should see improved numbers with a better shot selection and better clock management.
After years of picks deemed shocking and disappointing (including Porzingis) by Knick fans, there was nothing but cheers vibrating throughout Barclay’s Center. This is the guy they wanted. Assuming the Knicks miss out on top-tier free agents this summer, Barrett will have time to develop and learn under a new system. This would set him up for an even bigger explosion in year two.
As if tearing it up in AAU and the NCAA weren’t enough, Barrett looks to embrace the bright lights and expectations from New York City. Expressing how ready he was to play in the city proved that he will hold nothing back. Let’s hope he’s ready because Knick fans won’t hold anything back either.