NY Post: RJ Barrett making it look ‘easy’ in promising Knicks start

From Marc Berman:

After working with his trainer in Southern California, Barrett said he’s tinkered with shot technique, moving his right hand more to the side of the ball to get a more fluid release.

“I was working with Drew Hanlen over the summer, we changed it up a little bit, tweaked a couple of things,’’ Barrett said. “It’s been good so far. We’ve just got to keep working on it, get reps.”

There were rumblings the Knicks’ previous coaching staff was concerned that Barrett, who wore a pink suit on draft night, was too Hollywood and not enough of a gym rat as a rookie.

There’s a new Kith/Knicks digital advertisement showing Barrett working on his shooting in a late-night session with a security guard falling asleep while waiting for the workout to end. It’s not fictional.

Asked the best part of Barrett’s preseason, coach Tom Thibodeau said, “Probably the way he practiced. He set a great example for everyone. If he continues to work that way he’ll continue to improve.”

According to sources, the Knicks coaching staff has a new vision for Barrett, turning him more into a small forward than shooting guard so as to give him less early-possession ballhandling responsibilities.

Former coach David Fizdale, stunningly, gave Barrett the opening-night start at point guard last season and it backfired.

That won’t happen Wednesday in Indiana. Both Alec Burks or Reggie Bullock can play alongside Barrett as the shooting guard.

New guards coach Johnnie Bryant, who turned Donovan Mitchell into a superstar, has made an impact on Barrett, according to people with knowledge of the situation.

“I just thought his rim reads were terrific,’’ Thibodeau said. “His all-round play. His ball pressure [on defense] got a lot better as time went on. Offensively he scored a number of different ways — transition, cutting without the ball, off the dribble, catch and shoot.’’

This is partially why I’d be thrilled to be done with Perry, as he was part of the “braintrust” that looked at RJ Barrett and saw a shooting guard who they needed to surround with power forwards. I still can’t get over how dumb it was to play Barrett as a guard last year. The dude clearly is not a guard. He’s a forward. He could be a very good forward, so just let him be a forward. Surround him with other shooters. It really isn’t hard.

Barrett played very well in the preseason. He looked very comfortable out there, hitting his free throws and getting to the basket with ease. He still needs to shoot better from three (he was awful in the preseason), but even without a three-pointer, he has shown enough in these past four preseason games for me to be really excited about him making a big step forward this thing. It’s one of the things that I’m most looking forward to about this Knicks team (#1 being all of those amazing plays that Mitch makes).

Just give us some hope, RJ! That’s all we want! And Leon Rose and Thibs actually seem prepared to give us hope. I am very pleased with the Knicks at this moment.