The Usually Irresponsible Knicks Wisely Draft RJ Barrett 3rd Overall

By: Zachary Diamond
Posted: July 29, 2019

Since 1998, the New York Knicks have failed to make a first-round selection in the NBA Draft six times.

From 2010-2014, the Knicks only made two first-round selections (Tim Hardaway and Iman Shumpert) out of five drafts. The Knicks have a long history of trading their first-round draft picks in various schemes (trades) to acquire talent from other teams.

In 2004, they traded their 2004 pick and 2010 pick when they acquired Stephon Marbury (which went very well). They got rid of their 2014 pick in 2011 when they traded for Carmelo Anthony (also trading former first-round picks Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari). In 2013, the Knicks traded their 2016 first-rounder for superstar Andrea Bargnani (such a ridiculously bad trade).

Who’s got the time to draft and develop young talent? Not the Knicks. Not when you can just exchange your draft picks for mature veterans that will “help” right now. The Knicks operate like they are always one piece away from contending, yet never seem to make the playoffs. 

New York has gotten a lot better at holding on to their first-round draft picks in recent years. All the other good teams are doing it, so the Knicks figured they could give it a try. Their first-round picks from the last four seasons include a certain 7’3 Latvian PF (who’s name I won’t say), Frank Ntilikina, Kevin Knox, and RJ Barrett

Barrett was taken 3rd overall in June to much scrutiny. For a lot of Knicks fans, Barrett will never be Zion Williamson, the man who the Knicks were supposed to draft. That’s too bad since Barrett is a blue-chip prospect of Zion’s caliber.

Barrett and Zion were teammates together at Duke, taking Spanish together. Rumor has it Barrett’s grasp of the preterite tense is superior to Zion’s. 

Born in Toronto in the year 2000, Barrett is known as one of the best basketball players to ever come out of Canada. Drake already made a song about him. RJ’s dad Rowan Barrett played basketball professionally overseas and is friends with Steve Nash. Nash is RJ’s godfather and sometimes trained him, which is so cool. Who was Zion’s godfather, again? 

In high school, Barrett was the first player since LeBron James to win all major awards and the national championship. In his only year at Duke, Barrett was named All-ACC First Team. 

Barrett averaged 22.6 PPG his one year under Coach K, which led the ACC in scoring. Barrett averaged 4.3 APG, which ranked 5th in the ACC, and 7.6 RPG, which ranked 10th.

RJ is 6’7 and 202 lbs, the size of a prototypical NBA wing. His wingspan is 6’9. Barrett is a lefty, which is beautiful to see in action (I’m not a lefty or anything). 

Barrett can play shooting guard (SG) or small forward (SF) for the Knicks this season. He’ll most likely line up with Dennis Smith Jr (or Elfrid Payton?), Kevin Knox, Julius Randle, and Mitchell Robinson in the Knicks starting 5. Knox could play SF and Barrett can play SG. Or, maybe Barrett plays SF this season and Knox plays PF off the bench.

Barrett will compete with Julius Randle for leading Knicks scorer in 2020. Barrett has the upside to become one of the best SGs in the league, something the Knicks haven’t had in ages.

The old Knicks would’ve packaged the Barrett pick for some over 30 post-prime big name, but these new Knicks are wisely holding on to their picks and attempting to develop some young talent, which is all you could really ask for.

For more thoughts and opinions from Zachary, check out his author page or Twitter.

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Image Source: AP Images

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