While Knicks fans were quite upset after losing out on the Zion Williamson sweepstakes, ending up with the third overall pick should not upset Knick fans. Since Duke forward Zion Williamson is believed to be taken with the first pick and Murray State Point Guard Ja Morant is likely to be taken at two, that leaves the Knicks with the easy selection of taking Duke guard RJ Barrett.
RJ Barrett was often overlooked because of all the attention drawn by his teammate, Zion Williamson, but Barrett is a high quality scorer and has a lefty stroke that makes him very difficult to defend. RJ Barrett put up a line of 22.7 points per game to go along with 7.6 rebounds per game, 4.3 assists per game, while shooting 45.4% from the field per ESPN.
He was tied for the lead with Zion Williamson in scoring on one of the most prolific offenses in college basketball and he is a natural scorer ready to make serious noise in the NBA.
The Knicks are also heavy favorites to land superstar Kevin Durant if he decides to leave the Golden State Warriors. With that being said, potentially pairing him with a young guard with as much talent as RJ Barrett, could be a duo that could completely change the image and losing culture that the Knicks have been haunted by for years.
It is also worth noting that despite Zion Williamson getting all the attention over the course of last season, RJ Barrett was the Duke Blue Devils number one overall recruit, not Williamson.
The Golden State Warriors along with a lot of other teams that have been successful in recent memory have proven that this is a guard dominated league. While the NBA used to be dominated with big men such as the likes of Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal and the list goes on, the entire NBA has changed a lot since then.
The NBA is now a guard dominated league with players such as Stephen Curry, James Harden, Klay Thompson, and many others. RJ Barrett is a young and exciting guard that still has more aspects of his game to work on, such as three-point shooting, but is already poised to be a franchise cornerstone.
In addition, it takes a special type of player to be able to play in the spotlight of New York City and handle all of the media attention that may not be as prevalent in a smaller market. RJ Barrett played at one of the most prestigious college basketball programs that has prepared him well for handling the pressure.
RJ Barrett’s godfather and NBA legend Steve Nash, said about RJ “I think hell be an exciting player for Knicks fans. He’s able to handle that kind of stuff (playing in New York) because he’s been at Duke but he’s also been one of the top, if not the No. 1 kid since he’s been 13, 14 years old. So he’s able to handle it”.
This not only coming from someone close to RJ, but from one of the greatest point guards to ever play the game is very meaningful. With the exception of Kristaps Porzingis, players that the Knicks select in the draft such as Frank Ntilikina from France, often end up not reaching their full potential because of the pressure and expectations that come with playing in New York. RJ Barrett on the other hand, does not draw that same concern given his preparation to thrive in the spotlight.
Also, with the way the new lottery system is structured in order to prevent tanking, the Knicks were more likely to get the 5th overall pick than the 1st despite having the highest odds to land the #1 pick. In reality, the Knicks did not completely lose out getting the third pick due to these circumstances.
Whether the Knicks decide to draft RJ Barrett or move the pick to the New Orleans Pelicans for superstar big man Anthony Davis that has expressed his displeasure with the Pelicans organization, this is a potential win-win scenario for the Knicks. Being awarded the 3rd overall pick in the draft is not as unfortunate as it is perceived by many as being a player of RJ Barrett’s caliber potentially falling right into general manager Scott Perry’s lap.
Zion Williamson may be the clear-cut best player in the draft at the moment, but Barrett has potential to have himself an outstanding career in the bright lights of New York City and be well deserving of the third overall pick.
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