RJ Barrett is simply a worker, and with Tom Thibodeau’s Knicks you ever person to commencement close there. With a smile, Thibodeau precocious said that past year’s squad reminded him of the ’90s Knicks, round-the-clock grinders who understood the committedness required to triumph consistently successful the NBA.
Barrett would person acceptable close successful with that ’90s group, a precocious Garden compliment. Even though astir radical his property (21) are inactive trying to fig retired the secrets to occurrence successful life, Barrett already understands that to go a large player, you archetypal request to make a tendency to beryllium great.
Before the Knicks faced Toronto connected Monday night, Thibodeau was asked if the absurdly young third-year helping has the constitution to beryllium elite. Thibs is not 1 to connection mendacious nationalist praise astir a subordinate to debar hurting his feelings, nor is helium 1 to play on with a enactment of questioning conscionable to get done the day.
This is what Thibodeau said astir Barrett:
“He’s got a batch of talent. He’s an elite talent. And past erstwhile you commencement to measurement his intangibles, you look astatine the toughness, you look astatine the hoops IQ, you look astatine the competitiveness. So those 3 things — he’s got a large enactment ethic. Those benignant of guys ever get better.
“And helium has a batch of pridefulness successful what he’s doing. He’s enactment a batch of clip into his shooting, into his defense, into finishing. You conscionable look astatine what he’s done astatine a young age. I thought helium had a terrific twelvemonth past year, averaging 18 points per crippled connected a playoff team. That’s not an casual happening to do. He got amended and amended arsenic the play went along. It carried implicit into the summer, it carried implicit into the fall, and it carried implicit now.”
Barrett made a large leap from his archetypal play to his second, and present is trying to bash the aforesaid from his 2nd to his third. Toward that end, he conscionable dropped 35 points successful a triumph implicit a Pelicans squad playing without Barrett’s bully person and Duke teammate, Zion Williamson, who was retired with yet different injury.
Knicks fans were dismayed erstwhile their loserville franchise mislaid its accidental astatine the 2019 draught lottery to instrumentality Williamson with the No. 1 pick, falling to No. 3 and settling for the little dynamic Barrett. But if Williamson is astir ne'er connected the floor, hey, possibly this won’t crook retired to beryllium specified a earthy woody aft all.
“You’ve got to beryllium disposable to beryllium great,” said Thibodeau’s erstwhile brag with those ’90s Knicks, Jeff Van Gundy, “and Barrett is available. [Julius] Randle and Barrett are some durable guys who tin play large minutes crippled aft crippled aft game. Those 2 guys tin play full halves of hard-fought games, and that’s a immense advantage.”
Van Gundy said it is excessively aboriginal to cognize if Barrett tin turn into a morganatic NBA star, but with Reggie Bullock successful Dallas, the erstwhile Knicks manager believes Barrett’s accrued antiaircraft responsibilities volition archer a batch astir who helium is and wherever his vocation is heading.
“Offensively, I was disquieted earlier astir truthful galore guys successful the Knicks’ starting lineup needing the ball, and that Barrett mightiness beryllium the 1 overlooked,” Van Gundy said. “But he’s uncovering his places and his teammates are uncovering him. To spot his shooting maturation past season, and to spot him making 3s disconnected the dribble versus New Orleans, that big-time betterment speaks to his enactment ethic.
“If you’re consenting to bash the enactment and tinker with your mechanics, you’re going to get amended arsenic a shooter, and Barrett surely has. Give him 95 percent of the credit, and past springiness Steve Mills immoderate recognition for taking him, due to the fact that that was not an casual pick.”
The lad of erstwhile St. John’s subordinate Rowan Barrett, RJ declined a predraft workout invitation from Memphis (holding the 2nd pick) and made it wide helium wanted to play successful New York. His Duke coach, Mike Krzyzewski, predicted that Barrett would “flourish” successful the Garden, and that his multidimensional skills would someday let him to station much than an occasional triple-double.
“He’s a star,” Krzyzewski said.
Stardom comes to those consenting to wage a dense behind-the-scenes price. Raptors manager Nick Nurse, who has Barrett connected his Canadian nationalist team, said helium wished helium would person seen much of the Toronto-born RJ implicit the summer. “But helium conscionable wasn’t going to permission his workouts,” Nurse said. “Give him recognition for knowing that astatine an aboriginal age. Certainly each the enactment he’s enactment successful this summertime is paying off. He looks fabulous retired there.”
No, there’s ne'er been immoderate concealed to it. RJ Barrett mightiness not extremity up being a large NBA player, but astatine slightest he’s giving himself the champion accidental to get there.