RJ Barrett is lastly placing all of it collectively for Knicks

On Saturday on the Backyard, RJ Barrett was on the free-throw line with 14.9 seconds left and the Knicks main the Pacers by two factors. He missed each makes an attempt, however the Knicks nonetheless held on to tug out the win.

Barrett’s misses had been an anomaly as he closed out a advantageous February when his sport appeared to lastly all click on.

Final season, Barrett’s 3-point marksmanship was alarming – as was his free-throw taking pictures. His accuracy from the road is vital to his productiveness as a result of he’s a candidate to attract fouls along with his relentless drives to the basket.

Barrett ended February with back-to-back huge nights — 24 factors vs. Indiana and 21 vs. Detroit. In 14 February video games, he shot 47.four % from the 3-point stripe.

His 3-point percentages nonetheless is beneath common — at 34.5 % in comparison with final season’s 32 %. Nevertheless it’s edging nearer to respectable.

Barrett’s free-throw taking pictures is significantly better, nonetheless. He’s gone from taking pictures 61.four % final season to 72.9 %.

In averaging 16.5 factors, 6.1 rebounds and a couple of.9 assists, the previous Duke star from Toronto will undoubtedly be named to the official Rising Stars Recreation roster for the World Staff on Wednesday.

Whereas the Rookie-Sophomore Recreation gained’t truly be performed throughout All-Star weekend due to the condensed pandemic format, it’s nonetheless a step in the correct course for Barrett.

“I’ll simply say all the pieces,” Barrett mentioned when requested about his statistical enchancment earlier than going through the Spurs in San Antonio on Tuesday. “I’ve been working laborious. It feels good to see it translate on the court docket. Nonetheless acquired a number of issues to work on.”

Early in February, Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau began to ease again on Barrett’s minutes. Some nights the coach didn’t have the No. Three decide within the 2019 NBA Draft shut out video games. That’s probably as a result of Barrett’s fourth-quarter taking pictures share was beneath 40 %. However he’s gaining Thibodeau’s belief and traction.

“It’s simply work,” Barrett mentioned. “Working every single day, getting photographs up every single day. Get photographs up at night time. At all times taking pictures, all the time ensuring so I will be within the sport and knock them down when my crew wants them.”

RJ Barrett on Feb. 28, 2021
RJ Barrett on Feb. 28, 2021

Final All-Star break, Barrett made the World Roster as a rookie and the night time grew to become certainly one of his most interesting hours. He racked up 27 factors — one of many few gamers on the court docket who took the sport severely. Even his Duke buddy Zion Williamson acquired indignant at Barrett for deliberately fouling him to interrupt up a dunk try.

Nevertheless, the Knicks’ systemic dropping and his inefficient stats price him a spot on the 2 All-Rookie Groups – a serious blow contemplating his lofty draft standing. Throughout coaching camp, Barrett mentioned he took the snub to coronary heart.

“He nonetheless can’t shoot from the skin properly, however he can rating,” one NBA scout mentioned.

Certainly, the lefty Barrett is hard to cease from attending to the rack – even when scouts don’t see him as an elite athlete. He’s acquired a number of craftiness. It was identified final season that Barrett nearly completely goes left. Nevertheless, this season he’s blended it up a bit extra.

“I work on it every single day,” Barrett mentioned. “Groups attempt to ice me, attempt to make me go proper. So I simply attempt to snake it and check out to return to my left.”

Barrett made his NBA debut in San Antonio on opening night time when former coach David Fizdale pulled a shock and began him at level guard.

It didn’t work out properly with him operating the present as Barrett had three early turnovers. However he completed the night time with 21 factors on 9-for-13 taking pictures.

Nevertheless Barrett hasn’t been again on the level a lot since. In reality the Knicks want him extra as a small ahead with much less ball-handling duties.

“It seems like eternally in the past,” Barrett mentioned. “However I do keep in mind it. It was a terrific night time, an evening I’ll always remember.”