RJ Barrett was an issue in highschool. If you understand, you understand, however if you happen to don’t enable us to fill you in: the Ontario, Canada native, who was born into an athletically-gifted household and his godfather is none aside from Steve Nash, was a bucket himself. As a freshman at Montverde Academy, he dropped 31 factors towards a stacked Chino Hills squad, then led by Pelicans’ guard Lonzo Ball.
By his senior season, he led the Eagles to an ideal 35-0 document and ended his highschool profession with a bang: he scored 47 factors in his final highschool recreation and his workforce went on to win a Geico Nationwide Championship. Oh yeah, after which he received all the main Nationwide Participant of the Yr accolades, a feat that had solely been completed by LeBron James.
As if his highschool accolades weren’t sufficient, the man who was as soon as nicknamed ‘Maple Mamba’ went on to guide Canada to a win within the FIBA World Cup. Then he discovered himself suitin’ up in blue and white with ‘Duke’ written throughout his chest, becoming a member of a stacked squad that included Zion Williamson, Cam Reddish and Tre Jones. All of them, RJ included, would go on to play within the League.
Transitioning into the NBA brings on plenty of warmth. Some gamers fade into being labeled as a “has been” whereas others both dwell as much as expectations or beat the percentages. Coming in because the third choose within the draft, expectations from NY followers and basketball critics all over the world had been excessive for the previous prime prospect—particularly contemplating that many followers had hopes of Barrett turning into the second coming for the Knicks.
His rookie season was powerful for each himself and the workforce, however he nonetheless confirmed glimmers of potential and high-upside. As proven in NBA Rooks, now streaming on ESPN, RJ had a spectacular debut for the Knicks however acknowledged that the tempo of the sport and the competitiveness is totally different within the League in comparison with school. The Knicks began the season 4-18 earlier than buying head coach Tom Thibodeau with hopes of reviving a franchise that appeared to have misplaced not solely it’s footing however the spark that it as soon as had.
The transfer ultimately paid off for the Knicks, and RJ, who averaged 14.3 factors, 5 rebounds, and a pair of.6 assists confirmed glimmers of potential and high-upside, together with a number of 20-point video games. Nonetheless, he didn’t make the All-Rookie First or Second Crew and completed eighth in Rookie of the Yr voting.
Whereas criticism adopted about his capturing, and whether or not he was the prospect everybody anticipated, generally you simply have to belief the method earlier than growing right into a star.
And, a star on the Knicks he’s blossoming into. RJ has improved in almost each scoring class, averaging 17.3 factors, 3.0 assists and capturing 45.3 p.c from the sector. He’s additionally had 4 back-to-back 20+ level video games and not too long ago scored a career-high 32 factors towards the Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder, proving that he has the flexibility to run the offense. RJ’s offensive contributions have helped propel the Knicks towards success, and the workforce is doubtlessly able to make the playoffs. If profitable, this is able to be their first playoff look since 2013.
Sadly, we dwell in a time the place if a 20-year-old enters the League and has a tough couple of seasons, judgment comes shortly. However basketball is a recreation of momentum, and generally it simply takes time to get the ball rollin’. It took a minute, however RJ’s hoopin’ identical to everybody knew he may.
Stream NBA Rooks completely on ESPN+
Observe the journeys of Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, RJ Barrett and extra as they start their professional careers on NBA Rooks, completely on ESPN+.