With the third pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, the New York Knicks selected RJ Barrett out of Duke University, and in his first season, Barrett made a splash in New York.
RJ Barrett was one of the best players on one of the best teams during the 2018-19 College Basketball season, and because of it, the New York Knicks selected him with the third overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
After finishing with the worst record in the 2018-19 season, the Knicks lost the Draft Lottery and were given the third overall pick. The good news is the Knicks got a future stud in RJ Barrett who had a great rookie season.
In his first year in the NBA, Barrett averaged 14.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game, good enough to finish as the second-highest scorer among players who are currently on the Knicks.
This being said, Barrett has some serious potential and could legitimately turn into an All-Star caliber player over the next couple of seasons. One player I believe is a very realistic and fair comparison to Barrett is Jayson Tatum.
If you look at each of their first seasons in the NBA, the numbers are shockingly similar:
- Barrett: 14.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.0 steals, .402 FG%, .320 3P%, .614 FT%
- Tatum: 13.9 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.0 steals, .475 FG%, .434 3P%, .826 FT%
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Obviously there’s the fact that Barrett is more of a shooting guard who can play small forward, and Tatum is a forward, but they’re still rather similar when it comes to the measurables. Barrett is 6’6″, 202 lbs and Tatum is 6’8″, 204 lbs.
That being said, I wouldn’t expect Barrett to establish a winning culture with the Knicks so soon and take the Knicks where Tatum has taken the Celtics, but he could be a similar player. Tatum went from a pretty good player his rookie season, to being one of the best players in the NBA and being named to his first All-Star Game in only his third season.
Obviously another obvious comparison the two have is the fact that they went to Duke for a season learning from the greatest College Basketball coach of all time, Coach K.
If Barrett can improve from season one to season two as well as Tatum did, the Knicks are going to be in a great position as he would develop into a top player in the NBA. I fully expect Barrett to take a large step and improve even more going into the 2020-21 season, especially if the Knicks make a splash in free agency or select a player in the 2020 Draft who would compliment him.