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RJ Barrett Needs To Breakout

New York Knick RJ Barrett
New York Knicks guard RJ Barrett (9) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

 The Knicks Miserable 2019 Continues…

The lead-up to the 2019 NBA Draft was a difficult and depressing time for New York Knicks fans. The Knicks finished with the worst record in the NBA, a record of 17-65. Things were supposed to be trending in the right direction as they most likely would have had the #1 overall pick, which would have been Zion Williamson.

However, despite being the worst team in the league, the Knicks ended the lottery with the third overall pick. The Knicks had the third pick due to the NBA changing the lottery rules in 2019, where the three worst teams in the league have an equal chance at landing the #1 pick. The first draft lottery with the new rule in place cost the Knicks Williamson leading the Knicks to take his teammate at Duke University in, RJ Barrett.

Failing To Live Up To Expectations

Through his four seasons in the NBA, Barrett has been a good player, but many expected him to be great as a former third-overall pick. He was drafted to play alongside newly signed power forward Julius Randle. Some even thought Barrett could be the star the team has been looking for since Carmelo Anthony.

Through his four seasons, he has never made it to an All-NBA team or even an All-Star appearance. Barrett was not even a part of the All-Rookie team after averaging 14,3 points, five rebounds, 2.6 assists, and one steal in year one.

Comparing Barrett To Others in His Class

When on the court, the two best players in the 2019 draft class have been Williamson and Ja Morant. They were the top two picks in the draft. However, both Williamson and Morant have struggled with injuries and off-court issues. Despite them, they both are two-time All-Stars, and Morant is a two-time All-NBA player.

Another player who was in the same draft as Barrett and is one of the more consistent players with no off-court issues is Darius Garland. Garland was an All-Star two seasons ago and has averaged 21 points the past two seasons.

Another player who is having more success so far than Barrett is Tyler Herro, who was drafted ten picks after Barrett. Herro is a significantly better shooter than Barrett and was on the All-Rookie team in addition to winning Sixth Man of the Year in the 2021-22 season.

Consistently Improving, But Not Enough

Each year, for the most part, Barrett’s scoring average has improved. However, he still has not taken the big leap yet that many have expected. He also has not been a good defender or a good shooter. As a matter of fact, Barrett shot the worst statistically from three in his young career this past season at 31%.

Always Balls Out In March

In college, despite losing in the Elite 8 to Michigan State, Barrett was solid during March Madness offensively, as he averaged 20.2 points per game. This past season, he had a similar stretch where he averaged 23.6 points while shooting 46.3% during a seven-game stretch in mid-to-late March.

Is RJ Barret Overrated?

Earlier in the week, Bleacher Report released an article about the NBA’s most overrated players in the last five seasons, and they had Barrett listed as the second most overrated. Their reasoning was due to his struggles shooting and his shortcomings on defense. Also, he has failed to hit his stride of being the franchise’s cornerstone player. The article also mentioned his +/- impact, as the Knicks are -1.9 per 100 possessions with him on the court and +3.9 with him off the court.

However, Barrett is still 23 years old and has tons of time to continue to work on his game and develop. One could argue he is years away from entering his prime.

If there was any more pressure on Barrett, there is now as his new contract kicks in. He is entering the first season of his four-year $107 million contract. He will become an unrestricted free agent in 2027.

Balled Out In The Playoffs

Even though RJ Barrett may not have had the best regular season, he balled out when it mattered most, which was in the playoffs. In the postseason, Barrett averaged 19.3 points while shooting a respectable 43.3% from the field. However, Barrett really stepped up in the closing games of the first round against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Games 3 through Game 5 were Barrett’s best of the series. He scored 19, 26, and 21 points in those games. However, even more importantly, he was great defensively as in Game 5, he finished with 21 points and a +/- of +21 when on the court. Without Barrett’s emergence, they would not have upset the Cavaliers.

RJ Barrett Becomes StarJ Barrett

For anybody that has checked out fellow BackSportsPage writer Jeremy Gretzer and I’s basketball podcast Cut The Nets, the nickname “StarJ” is mentioned. Barrett still shows what it takes to be an All-Star in the NBA and averages 23-24 points per game. With hopes of going back to the second round or deeper, the Knicks need Barrett to break out. If he improves his shooting and defense and averages at least 23-24 points a game, there is no doubt RJ Barrett can be an All-Star.


Brian Ramos is a contributor on Back Sports Page. Along with receiving his B.A. in Sports Communications, he has over a year of experience in the sports industry and has interviewed a variety of people in the sports industry, such as Julius Randle, Bobby Portis, Don La Greca, Adam Schefter, and others. In addition, to writing, Ramos has called women’s lacrosse and baseball on ESPN+. Ramos has a podcast on YouTube called Cut The Nets, along with his co-host Jeremy Gretzer. You can find Brian on Instagram at @Brian.ramos0219 and Twitter at @brianramos0219.

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