Knicks Rumors: RJ Barrett's Work Ethic, Consistent Approach Impress NYK

Megan ArmstrongSenior Analyst IIMay 11, 2020

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 10: RJ Barrett #9 of the New York Knicks in action against the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena on March 10, 2020 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

New York Knicks rookie guard RJ Barrett has struggled to live up to the hype of going No. 3 overall in the 2019 NBA draft, however, the team reportedly is still invested in his future. 

"I don't think anyone can predict whether Barrett, who was selected third overall in the 2019 draft, will become a star in the league," SNY's Ian Begley wrote on Monday. "But people around the Knicks were impressed by Barrett's consistent approach to the job and his work ethic."

Begley continued: "Some scouts I spoke with were impressed by Barrett's ability to impact the game as a rebounder and defender fairly consistently in his first season. Those scouts think that if Barrett can improve his perimeter shooting and continue to progress as a defender, he'll have a long, successful NBA career."

Barrett was averaging 14.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.0 steals in 30.4 minutes across 56 games (55 starts) as a rookie for the 21-45 Knicks before the league's COVID-19 hiatus took effect on March 12.

Begley isn't the first to relay optimism about Barrett.

"RJ Barrett is not going to fail," a talent evaluator and former NBA head coach told Marc Berman of the New York Post in late March. "He's got too much size, too much ability shooting, driving. His perimeter shooting and free-throw shooting—that will get better with time. We all know that. That's what happens with NBA players."

Barrett was shooting 32 percent from three-point range and 61.4 percent at the free throw line.

The 19-year-old's ambiguous start could be chalked up to a product of an unstable environment. The Knicks fired head coach David Fizdale on Dec. 6 after the team got off to a 4-18 start to the season. That was following by long-time president Steve Mills' firing on Feb. 4, and former agent Leon Rose was hired as his replacement on March 2.

Mike Miller is New York's interim coach, but Barrett's development hinges on whom the Knicks hire to permanently lead the team.

Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman projected the Knicks to select Dayton forward Obi Toppin, who won several national player of the year awards, in June's 2020 NBA draft. It would be interesting to see Barrett paired with a dominant big man as he was with Zion Williamson at Duke.