RJ Barrett's 2019 NBA Draft Scouting Report: Analysis of Knicks Pick

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterJune 20, 2019

Duke forward RJ Barrett (5) reacts after scoring against Michigan State during the second half of an NCAA men's East Regional final college basketball game in Washington, Sunday, March 31, 2019. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Alex Brandon/Associated Press

The New York Knicks have selected RJ Barrett with the No. 3 pick in the 2019 NBA draft. 

Scouts pegged Barrett as the likely No. 1 overall pick before the season, but he fell short of those expectations because of Zion Williamson's unmatchable talent and the emergence of Ja Morant. However, Barrett still put together one of the most productive freshman seasons in recent memory, finishing as the only freshman in the past 25 years to average at least 22 points, seven rebounds and four assists. 


Quick hitters

Size: 6'7"

Weight: 202 pounds

Wingspan: 6'10"

Reach: N/A

Pro player comparison: DeMar DeRozan


Offensive strengths

Barrett's signature strengths are his scoring instincts and improvisation. He has a knack for finding unconventional ways to convert. He's most effective in transition using his change of speed and footwork to create easier angles and finishes. In the half court, he's a slasher and ball-screen scorer who's able to get downhill, pull up in space or toss up a runner. His 4.3 assists per game also reflect secondary playmaking ability, particularly out of pick-and-rolls. He can make passes into tight windows with finesse. And though Barrett isn't known as a shooter, he still buried 1.9 threes per game, showing confident shot-making skill when set.


Offensive weaknesses 

Barrett took some criticism this year for his shot selection late in games, as he tends to look off teammates and barrel into traffic without step-backs or advanced perimeter moves to create separation into jump shots. He lacks vertical explosion around the basket, where he shot only 52.5 percent, and his 66.5 percent free-throw mark raises questions about his shooting. Despite his volume scoring, he ranked in the 51st percentile in half-court offense. 


Defensive outlook

With a textbook frame for a 2-guard and enough length to play small forward, Barrett has the tools to defend at a high level. He can be tough when his competitiveness kicks in. However, he wasn't a big playmaker at Duke (0.9 steals, 0.4 blocks per game), and he was often too easy to shake free from. Barrett possesses defensive potential, but his anticipation guarding screens and overall effort need to improve.


Rookie-year projection

Though he'll be only 19 years old throughout his rookie year, Barrett figures to provide an immediate source of offense. Given his physical tools, natural scoring instincts and improved shot-making, he'll be ready to produce and average double-digit scoring totals right away. However, his field-goal percentage will likely dip from 45.4 percent, assuming his shot-creation and jumper need time. He'd ultimately benefit from the front office being able to add more talent in free agency.


Projected role: Quality starter/potential All-Star

Barrett will likely start from day one because of the threat he poses as a scorer and ball-screen playmaker. Athletic limitations, questionable shooting range and a suspect one-on-one game could lead to inefficiency and weigh down his value, but in the best-case scenario, he could mirror DeRozan and blossom into a 20-point, five-rebound, five-assist All-Star.


Stats courtesy of Synergy Sports and Sports Reference.