Marc Berman is as pumped up about RJ Barrett as us!
RJ Barrett has done everything but win in his first three NBA games.
After a strong preseason, Barrett has been even better in the regular season because he’s even hitting his 3-point shots — not just muscling to the hoop with great body control and inside shot-making flair.
Barrett has achieved an impressive three-game milestone. The 6-foot-7 sniper and only one other player in NBA history have tallied at least 60 points and 15 rebounds and notched five 3-pointers in their first three games. That other player is Kevin Durant.
The third pick in the draft is now the Knicks leading scorer, averaging 21 points.
“He’s a stud,” coach David Fizdale said. “That’s the only way I can put it. He’s a stud.”
As I noted in the Celtics game, it’s remarkable how quickly it’s gotten to the point where the team sort of falls apart when Barrett is not on the court. That’s a huge statement about the 19-year-old (and also about the rest of the Knicks roster, but let’s look on the bright side here).
65 replies on “NY Post: RJ Barrett already showing he’s ‘stud’ Knicks hoped for”
Yeah, watching Ja go toe-to-toe with Kyrie and win was a lot of fun, but I have much less regret about slipping to number 3 instead of number 2 than I used to. (As for number 1? Well, I’d probably still want Zion, but knees are scary.) RJ has so far been better than advertised, in that he’s playing both within himself and within whatever backwards team concept Fiz has developed. Like Jowles, I think the 3-point shooting is fool’s gold right now, especially given how he’s done at the FT line, but I also believe he’ll get better at that area. And he’s already really impressive at almost everything else. He doesn’t have nearly as much athleticism as Mitch, but Mitch doesn’t have nearly as much idea of what to do on a basketball court. Finally, it feels like we have a bit of a foundation.
RJ is not going to go from a bad outside shooter to a good one in a single summer. So when the inevitable dry spell comes and he’s costing us games with repeated bricks from 3, we need to remember he’s 19 and probably 6 years away from his eventual peak.
The good news is that the “bulls” on him said he would continue to be efficient around the basket and a plus rebounder/playmaker from the SG position. He’s done all that and added in some better than expected defense and higher basketball IQ than you’d expect from a kid this age.
To win big in this league you need 2-3 high level versatile scorers you hope they can do 1-2 other things well and some high level role players like elite defender/playmakers, elite 3&D players, an elite rim protector that scores efficiently inside etc…
If/when he eventually develops a consistent outside shot, he’s got a very good chance to be one of the 2-3 key players that are tougher to find (and keep).
Barrett has me irrationally excited, I.e. the stat line is not quite in line with what I have seen. I would still take Morant. Absolutely electrifying stuff from him yesterday. But going to momentarily suspend any skepticism of RJ and just enjoy watching a real prospect play.
Isn’t it nice to have a rookie that doesn’t require wishcasting to be excited about?
Yeah, the hype train has left the station. Let’s see how he handles it tonight.
I would pump the breaks on RJ a bit, but at least through 3 games the most encouraging part of his game has been his shot selection. He’s taken about 85% of his shots 10 feet in or behind the arc. RJ’s biggest non-shooting weakness in college was that he took too many shit shots, and so far at least that hasn’t been true in the NBA.
This so much. No matter the actual flaws RJ has shown too, it’s just so nice to be actually excited with reason by a rookie.
The main reason I’m feeling good about RJ is that he seems to have worked hard and polished his game over the summer. He’s going right without problems, he’s not forcing bad contested jumpers and he’s playing defense far better than I thought he was going to. At Duke he didn’t really play a high-IQ brand of ball and seemed to force things a lot, but he seems to have learned from that experience. There’s no reason he shouldn’t be a good defender in the league. He’s strong and sturdy, has long arms, and gives good effort. He’s a bright kid who seems to have the right mix of confidence and humility.
The sample size so far is tiny but encouraging. It’s looking like we possibly got the third pick in a three player draft and didn’t blow it by trying to get cute.
The list of seasons in league history in which guys have shot worse than 60% from the FT line but more than even 30% from 3 on even moderate volumes of both is vanishingly small. So it’s extremely likely we’re going to see convergance on those two stats one way or the other (probably a bit of both). The most encouraging thing to me about the hot shooting from 3 to start is just how unbroken the shot looks. It’s not going to go in like this all season, but the form is good and he shoots it with real confidence. It has definitely increased my belief in the odds that he will eventually get the jumper to where it needs to be.
He has been much better than I expected, especially so soon. There’s something about a combination of strength and balance on drives that can be deceptively difficult to defend. It reminds me of Harden a little bit in the sense that in terms of quickness it doesn’t seem like he should be able to get where he wants on the drive, but he always seems to be like 50% more in control than you expect when he’s in the lane with a guy on his hip. And concur that arguably the biggest concern coming out of college was that he was going to be a bad shot selection gunner and he hasn’t shown that at all. Early days but very encouraging.
If he finishes the year over .500 TS% with a decent volume, I will be very happy. The bar is not that high for rookies playing big minutes on trash teams.
RJ shot like 65% from the FT line in college so that number is almost certainly going to go up, but his 3 point shooting is going to get a lot worse too.
To put it in perspective, here’s a list of players and their TS% as rookies:
Evan Turner .484
In other words, I wouldn’t read much into Barrett’s TS%.
I’m most impressed with:
1) plays under control — really infrequently looks like a chucker
2) his defense has been quite good, even when switched on to smaller guys like Kyrie and Trae Young. He has a “net-net” rating of +29.3 with most of that net + being on the defensive end.
3) his FT% will get better. His 3P% will come down. But if you just look at his mechanics, you can see all the work he put in over the summer. His footwork on his 3’s is immaculate. And even if you look at the misses, he’s missing short and long, not all over the place.
4) only 1 offensive foul so far this year – and that was on a moving screen, not a charge. Didn’t he lead the NCAA in offensive fouls last year? Just shows he’s learning to play under control.
Meanwhile – maybe Frank finally gets a chance tonight, maybe against Lavine who is a tough guard for anyone. It occurred to me the other day that maybe Frank’s most-likely outcome is the PG for the Bulls – Kris Dunn. Not a real point guard. Great on the defensive end, but probably will be relegated to backup. Of course, Dunn is 4+ years older than Frank.
ts has never been a good forward looking indicator… it’s a good backwards looking one…. 2p shooting is the one to look for … at duke he was at 53% on really high volume…. right now he’s at 50%… which is really good but i think he settles in the high 40s… if he’s able to consistently get the shots he wants inside and converting them that’s more of a predictor than anything else…. the 3p shooting can develop at any other time in his career…. ft shooting is the same although hopefully he gets that over 70%…
I understand we have little to talk about 3 games into the season but talking about 3 point and FT% off 13 and 14 shot samples is pretty hilarious when we have > 200 shot samples to look at in college. A fair guess would be a 2-5% improvement over his college stats this year simply be cause a 19 yr old should get somewhat better at these two skills simply with directed practice.
I’m pretty confident saying he won’t shoot FTs like Chris Dudley and won’t shoot 3s this year like Steve Kerr. However we should be ecstatic with the number 3 pick we got an NBA ready 19 year old who looks a little like a poor man’s D Wade with less hops and more strength.
We got us a keeper……
I feel reasonable safe saying he’ll shoot 35%+ from 3, if for no other reason than he’ll be shooting many fewer unassisted 3’s this year. Last year he made 73 total 3’s with only 10 unassisted makes as opposed to 63 assisted makes. I can’t seem to find how many assisted or unassisted attempts he had, but I feel pretty comfortable it’ll be a lot fewer unassisted attempts this year.
If you watch that link I posted above, he even has a couple 3’s off movement — one coming off a screen and one off the dribble. The footwork is just great.
The FT shooting though… I have no idea.
Morant and JJJ is such a nice foundation. I envy Memphis.
Ja Morant may be 25 pounds too light and Zion might be 25 pounds too heavy. RJ has prototypical height and weight for the position and is already built like a veteran in terms of his muscle mass.
Anyway you slice it, the most valuable player in [playoff] basketball is the two way wing, and RJ Barrett is the first two-way high volume wing player to be drafted in a very long time. Right now, RJ Barrett is playing the game like a more athletic version of Landry Fields all those years ago. Landry Fields was a 34% shooter from deep in college but jumped up to 39% his rookie season because he played within himself, and Landry was also a high 60s% shooter from the stripe in college (got that to 77% as a rookie).
I remember the first time I saw RJ Barrett play basketball. It was the FIBA U19 (he had turned 17 a month prior, mind you) tournament semi final game against Cam Reddish, PJ Washington, Kevin Huerter, and the rest of the United States team. He was the only NBA prospect on the floor for Canada and he was straight up torching those kids. He ended up scoring 38 points in a win and I couldn’t help but think to myself “this kid is going to be the best player in the NBA someday.” I know it sounds stupid, but he did the same high school circuits and played in the same country as Zion Williamson, and he was the consensus best player in the country. That proved to be wrong in their freshman seasons at Duke, but now you guys are starting to see the RJ Barrett I’ve been banging the table for. This probably won’t last the entire rookie year, but if/when he fixes that free throw shooting bug, he’ll be the best basketball player in New York City. If/once he can go to either hand and develops all three levels of his scoring game, he’s a league MVP candidate in an era with Giannis, Ben Simmons, and Luka Doncic.
I still can’t believe he’s a Knick.
In the most excited about RJ department: his scoring at the rim translated so quickly. It looks sustainable, thanks to his strength and body control. The defense would have to double him, and he’s a good passer so he’ll make them pay.
I’m taking RJ Barrett and Mitch over them all day. Plus we’re in New York City and they’re in Memphis.
It’s really too bad the whole KP thing fell apart. RJ+KP+Mitch would’ve been a pretty awesome core.
Mitch would’ve been the ideal frontcourt mate for KP – quick enough to cover PFs if necessary, great rebounder.
Meanwhile, RJ is showing way more than Landry Fields, who was really great as a rookie but mostly as a finisher and 4th-5th option on that team, as opposed to RJ who is already maybe the alpha on the team.
Not too early. He’s the best thing to happen to the Knicks probably since drafting Ewing. Absent some kind of really bad injury, will likely be a perennial all-star starting in like 2021-22. The lottery balls were extremely kind to the Knicks last summer.
Tanking as a result of poor coaching and chicken shit front office non-moves was the desired outcome all along. Ensures all three have jobs for two more years.
KP realized he was working with incompetent, slick talking fake geeks and wanted out but I was called a troll to point this out. This trade has the potential to be the worst in Knicks history by far.
Let’s keep making excuses for these three stooges, enjoy a 3yr tankathon and then blame RJ & Mitch for wanting out of NY.
They should have let Phil do the Markkanen or Booker trades. I get not signing him to a max deal, that’s fine, but you don’t do the DSJ (*)/cap space deal unless you know for 100% certain that you’re getting Durant. They were obviously never 100% to get Durant. If Pills/Dolan let themselves get conned by Kleiman or whatever, that’s on Pills/Dolan.
(*) Already looking for passage on the midnight train to Georgia. NYC proved too much for the man. That’s also on the front office.
I love what I’ve seen from RJ so far, but the idea of having a star PG on the team after suffering through the dreck we’ve been putting on the court is way too appealing. I’d have to go with Ja.
But this might be the rare draft class where the top 3 picks all actually pan out. I don’t think that’s actually happened before as far as I can remember.
There are, like, 500 NCAA players within an inch of 6’6″ and almost every major-conference D1 player is shredded. The difference in quality among them is between the ears.
I remind you that Zion has t-rex arms, is short for a SF/PF, and was hands down the best NCAA player of the decade.
the kp trade has a decent chance of working out … he’s played great thus far but we’ll see how he is in january and there’s also some worrying parts of his game to keep an eye on….
randle and smith developing would make that trade look really good but it hasn’t so far… dsj hopefully bounces back but really needs a huge kick in the pants when he returns…. randle just needs to stop forcing things…. in fact him and morris iso’ing up has led to a lot of our problems on offense…. he’s looked really good when he tries to find the open man but too often he’s driving into 4 guys…. nobody can do that consistently no matter how much of a truck he is…
mitch is our best player but he can’t seem to stay on the court…. we should just try and leave him out there and just foul out if it comes to that because the drop off between him and portis is monumental…. that speaks to both how good mitch is and how bad portis has been….
the key to a 30+ win season has always hinged on mitch playing close to 30mpg + knox and other dregs in the lineup playing minimally… and some of the vets playing often (ellington.. morris.. and taj) …. morris has but ellington and taj haven’t and if this losing streak continues hopefully that forces fiz’s hand….
Star point guards are fun and all but wings win in the playoffs unless that wing’s team is severely outmatched. RJ Barrett has the potential to dominate on both ends, and he’s been a big shot maker/taker since he was 17. He’s used to winning (ACC championship at Duke, undefeated senior season in high school along with a national championship, FIBA U17 gold medalist) and he plays the game like it. Guys like Ja Morant get shut down by the physicality and better defenses in the playoffs. You’ll see that when Kawhi and Paul George make guys Dame Lillard and Jamal Murray feel like fourth graders.
I’m not refuting any of that at all. It doesn’t change the fact that RJ Barrett’s physical profile checks all of the boxes, and I don’t want for a second to make it seem like RJ Barrett is destined to be better than Morant or Zion (even though I’m fighting those thoughts every hour). What I’m saying is RJ Barrett isn’t a size concern nor a durability concern the way Morant and Williamson are (both guys have had a knee surgery before they ever played a regular season NBA game), and we should keep that in mind when discussing regrets over not landing either player.
The Giants just gave the Jets a 3rd round pick and (if he resigns) a 4th round pick for a guy they could have just signed after the season. Seems a little baffling. Those are going to be prime picks.
Also, not sure if it’s been mentioned here, but Dennis Smith Jr lost his stepmother recently and isn’t expected to play this week. That probably explains why he hasn’t looked like himself on or off the court, and gives me reason to keep hope alive.
Let’s not talk about football until there are at least 5 good offensive lineman in the city.
I have a very hard time saying that Barrett is better than Morant (Zion is in another tier entirely but those knee issues are a bit worrying). That said, it’s good for once to know we have a Melo, Bosh or Wade and not a Darko.
If so, what was Fiz thinking though? To be a good coach you also have to evaluate the psychic state of your players and you shouldn’t feed them minutes if they’re in need of mental or emotional recover.
I’m just hoping right now that Leo Williams passes his physical. In a dark Jets season, that looks like a very good trade for the Jets.
Yeah, very excited about RJ, but I remember being pretty excited about KP, too. RJ seems like a good kid, but so didn’t KP, at first. I do feel more confident about RJ, though.
If DSJ is out for a few games, I guess Frank gets backup PG minutes?
Totally grasping at straws here, but it’s not unheard of for guys to play ball after a tragedy in their life. Vernon Davis lost his grandfather and scored a touchdown for him. Isaiah Thomas lost his little sister and played in a playoff game afterwards. Maybe both guys thought that playing or being around the team would help him grieve.
crucial season defining game against the bulls tonight…
i just felt like writing something crazy this morning…
oh yeah, a little off topic…connor is one hell of a brilliant promoter – but, he really should stop poking on them dagestani’s…they are some very literal folks…
thanks for sharing that…yeah, easy to forget these athletes have lives too…
Yeah, it’s not unprecedented. But people react differently to tragedies. When I lost my uncle in a car crash and I was 14 (my mother was devastated, he was very young) I needed – needed like I need air! – to play the exact same day. Same when I was 23 and a friend was hit by a very bad illness at such a young age (he’s still alive but the situation looked very dire at the time): my band had to play that night and I was hungry to go on stage and let it all out. I guarantee you that I wasn’t a shell of myself.
It looks like DSJ doesn’t handle sorrow in the same way (if that is indeed the case), and that’s ok.
It’s your duty as a coach to gauge the level of emotional distress of your players and adjust accordingly.
Ken Berger of Bleacher Report:
According to a person familiar with the situation, a key source of the unrest was that Fizdale diminished Gasol’s Euroleague accomplishments.
“He literally said to Marc Gasol, ‘I know what real championships are, not that fake stuff in Europe,’” the person said. “‘That Euro championship stuff doesn’t cut it.’”
Been thinking about this. It really is amazing how even when you have a draft with three Hall of Famers taken in the lottery, they basically never go in the top 3. There’s always at least one outlier like Darko or Thabeet.
I went back to the 1984 draft (where Sam Bowie was the outlier, though he eventually turned into a useful player for the Nets) and these were the closest I could come up with. And even here, I had to stretch the definition of “worked out.” Glenn Robinson made a couple of All-Star teams, but the Bucks would absolutely take Kidd if they had a do-over. Emeka Okafor and Ben Gordon turned out to be useful players, but weren’t stars like Dwight turned out to be. Etc.
1994: Glenn Robinson, Jason Kidd, Grant Hill
1999: Elton Brand, Steve Francis, Baron Davis
2004: Dwight Howard, Emeka Okafor, Ben Gordon
And these last two are obviously much too soon to tell, but there’s a chance they could qualify.
2016: Ben Simmons, Brandon Ingram, Jaylen Brown
2018: Ayton, Bagley, Doncic
It would be pretty crazy if Zion’s knees make him turn out to be the outlier.
2007: Oden, Durant, Horford, Conley
Would have qualified if Oden could stay on the court.
Zion’s knee is starting to worry me. But, Ja had a serious injury last year and RJ still has a long way to go, don’t count your chickens yet.
@41 if he really said that he’s a childish moron. And if this was known around the NBA and he still got the Knicks job, man, that’s even worse.
I’m sure it was known around the league. Most likely Gasol told people. Within a week of Fizdale’s hiring, I bet KP knew everything that happened in Memphis with Gasol, either directly through Marc himself or from a source no further removed from Marc than Willy. Which would explain why KP didn’t want anything to do with the guy.
Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News:
The “Grit n Grind” Grizzlies had become a brand in Memphis, and Fizdale’s objective was to blow it up.
“He wanted his own locker room,” a Grizzlies source told the Daily News. “And he basically convinced management to get rid of Zach (Randolph), to get rid of Tony Allen.”
Trying to morph the Grizzlies was always going to strain a relationship with Gasol, and the toxicity reached a pivotal moment when, according to a source, Fizdale confronted the team about its lack of desire following a defeat. The coach went around the locker room asking each player if he believed he could win a championship. If they lacked belief, they didn’t belong on the Grizzlies.
The younger players went along. Gasol, however, answered, “No.” Then when asked for an explanation, Gasol replied, “We don’t have the right leader.”
Fizdale had a solid comeback, but it couldn’t have helped his future with Gasol.
“I get it, you want Gregg Popovich, and I want LeBron James,” the coach told his star player, according to a source.
why is this fizdale drama being replayed now? what axe are we grinding?
i’m not fiz’s biggest fan but this isn’t really all that relevant here….
I loved the grit n grind Grizzlies. They outperformed. It does speak to Fiz wanting to win a certain way.
I mean, from what I can tell, his offensive philosophy consists of empowering a bunch of gunners to go out there and pass the ball as little as possible. So I am Team Gasol on this one.
b r u h
The Euro thing is directly relevant to his treatment of Frank (and to a degree, Kanter), but it’s interesting to re-read it now that he has a year-plus of lame coaching of the Knicks on his record. But mostly, I just thought it was an interesting add-on to what Farfa wrote about a coach having to know the emotional state of his players. That really doesn’t seem to be among his … cough … strengths.
Yeah, taking over there and making your first order of business breaking them up is … strange.
Anyone who doesn’t think Euro players are winning players — or whatever the hell he thought when he said that inanely stupid shit — has his head up his ass.
it’s not relevant with frank because frank sucks…. he’s established that already…. there is no grand conspiracy to deprive frank of deserving minutes because he doesn’t actually deserve it….
let’s stop this childish euro-phobe nonsense… if you’re gonna knock fiz.. there’s plenty of on the court ammo you can look at from an x’s and o’s perspective… he played hezonja half the time last year… that should be evidence enough that he’s capable of overrating euro players just as much as american ones…. and kanter never even played in europe…
It’s not about that. It’s about insulting your best player for absolutely no reason, and about hiring a coach who does that, especially when your best player is also a European.
I don’t think it implies that he thinks European players are inherently bad. It seems that he thinks that Euroleague is a second-rate league, which, even if true, is something you probably don’t want to say to one of the most famous and decorated international players of all-time. It shows the emotional intelligence of a newt.
I think if there’s one thing just about every Knickerblogger is unanimous about it’s that Fizdale, as a coach, tops out at “sucks.”
Fizdale just plain sucks.
I’m cautiously optimistic with Barrett currently though!
To give fiz some credit Allen and Randolph were completely washed and Gasol was past his prime.
it’s not the greatest look to be doing that but all these secondhand info from reporters generating headlines and clout chasing on social media… this is literally high school gossip type of shit…. you shouldn’t be drawing any conclusions based off of that.. it’s entertainment and memes and water cooler fodder… you have no idea if it’s true and you have no idea what the context was…. most of the time it’s people feeding stories to the media with the express purpose to cover their ass or make them look good…. most of the time it’s management as knick fans are all too familiar with but agents and players are capable of that too…
i’m sure a lot of stuff happened in memphis but i’m also sure that environment produced a lot of questionable and toxic coaching environments.. from hollins to joerger to fizdale…. that team was very good but it was also on the decline that had questionable decisions from management and ownership meddling…. when teams decline shit happens… and every good team eventually declines and gets broken up… such is life in the nba…
if fizdale fails here… it is certainly not gonna be because he didn’t play frank more… in fact that’s probably been his best decision to date….
Sure, I agree with all of that, especially on Ntilikina not having earned the right to be on the floor. I think it’s clear that he lost the respect of Gasol there, but it’s largely irrelevant to the guys in the Knicks’ locker room right now. Does it show poor judgment? Maybe, but maybe that was an isolated incident.
The bigger issue I have is that he’s apparently shit at being a clipboard coach. That Woj podcast with Draymond and Myers had some interesting insights (although I found Myers a bit smarmy and a little disingenuous regarding the value he places on relationships over winning, even though Green returned the praise about Myers) about Draymond’s suspension last year.
He said that at first, he felt betrayed by Kerr and Myers about the suspension, but he took a step back and realized that he was at fault too, and that he apologized to KD only when he recognized himself as the agent of that transgression. Does anyone think that Green is as likely to have that kind of epiphany without the immense success he’s found in Oakland? My point here is that if you play winning basketball, you can duke it out behind the scenes and come back to a place of solidarity, because you know you are capable of being successful again.
And I’m not saying that you can’t garner goodwill outside of winning. Monty Williams never won shit and he was one of the most respected people in the whole NBA. My point here is that you can’t be bad at both of those things. That’s how you get fired.
@31… you know, didn’t KOQ go through a funk during his Knick tenure his first year and we found out later it was bc his dad died?
If DSJ is trying to play through a death in the family, then he should take time away from the team to be with his family and not force basketball right now.
I don’t think Fiz “sucks” as much as he’s coaching like a bottom-half coach but has a clunky team to figure out. The Grizzlies situation was clunky and murky and the Knicks situation last year was an abject tank that he executed perfectly given the personnel he had to work with. He’s most likely on a level with Woodson, Hornacek, Donovan, Brett Brown, etc. He’s not on a level with Pop, Budz, Stevens, Kerr, etc. But I don’t feel there is enough information to conclude that he sucks.
fwiw he has been spoken very highly of by his mentors.
Tonight’s game will be a good measuring stick for our team. We’ve lost to 3 playoff-level teams and should be hungry for a win. My fear is that Randle will continue to blunder us out of close games down the stretch.
I think the problem with Fiz so far (this season) is he is just throwing shit at the wall to see what sticks at the moment. Admittedly there have been some real head scratching moves in game, but given (outside of Randle, RJ, Morris and Mitch) no one has really shown they are a clear rotation piece, it’s probably not controversial to think that the rotations are still a working progress 3 games in. Today is probably the real test. I don’t think we should necessarily beat up on the Bulls, but given the team has (for the most part) been able to hang with playoff teams it should be expected we at least look competent. That may be expecting a lot though ha ha