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It is Time People Start Respecting RJ Barrett

The New York Knicks find themselves in the middle of a five game winning streak. Currently, the Knicks sit in sixth place in the eastern conference, only a 1/2 game out of fourth place. A big reason for the Knicks unexpected success this season is Julius Randle. However, it is time the national media and fans around the country start putting more respect on RJ Barrett’s name.

The former third overall pick is in his second season in the NBA. He is averaging 17.3 ppg, 5.7 rebounds per game, and 3.0 assists per game in his age 20 season. To put things in perspective, fellow third overall picks Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum average 6.6 ppg and 15.7 ppg respectively in their age 20 seasons. Barrett is blossoming into one of the game’s brightest young stars. However, he is still not getting the respect he deserves.

NBA’s Top 25 under 25

Some of the game’s brightest stars are also some of the game’s youngest. ESPN recently put out a list of the top 25 players under the age of 25, ranking them by potential. Somehow, RJ Barrett was left off of this list. The top of the list came as no surprise with the top 3 being Luka, Zion, and Lamelo Ball. However, there are certainly some names that do not belong above RJ Barrett. For example, Mikal Bridges is ranked at number 17. Barrett is averaging better in three traditional counting stats (points, rebounds, and assists) than Bridges. Barrett is also having a better season (and career so far) than Lonzo Ball who came in at number 24.

Improved EVERY facet of his Game

One area of RJ Barrett's game that needs more respect is his 3-point shooting

There was a reason that RJ Barrett was ranked as the number one recruit in his high school class (ranked above Zion). The young man could score the basketball at will and he showed that promise at Duke. Coming into the NBA, people questioned his outside shot making ability and his defense. Barrett had himself a very good rookie season in New York. However, he has taken his game to the next level in year two. He has improved every single facet of his game. He is shooting better from the field (40% to 45%), shooting better from 3 (32% to 38% on more attempts), and shooting much better from the free throw line (61% to 73%).

Not only is Barrett playing better on the offensive side of the floor, but also, he is becoming one of the better wing defenders in the NBA. He is often matched up against the other team’s top scorer. Last night, he was mostly matched up against Luka Doncic.

Game is still improving

RJ Barrett is nowhere near done developing. At 20 years old, Barrett still has a lot of room to get better. He will continue to work on his 3-point shot over the offseason and make that a deadly aspect of his game. He will also look to improve his ball handling and increase those assists numbers. Barrett can be one of the best playmakers on the team. Improved ball handling and improved 3-point shot would make Barrett one of the most dangerous players on the court as he is a threat with or without the ball.

Final Thoughts

This article goes out to all of those Knicks fans who called a 19 year old RJ Barrett a bust. Barrett is looking like the first big hit the Knicks have had in a long time coming out of the draft. He is truly looking like a budding superstar. That top 3 of Zion, Ja, and RJ is looking like they will be one of the best top 3 in a draft we have seen in a long time. RJ Barrett is one of the top young players in the NBA, and it is time that people start treating him as such.

-Pete Chatterton (@Pchat12)

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