Why Knicks giving RJ Barrett a max extension shouldn’t be a lock

CHARLOTTE — It’s been a season of beckoning promise for RJ Barrett — the one important factor Knicks followers can cling to amid this season of darkness.

However earlier than it’s thought-about a fait accompli Barrett has earned a most rookie contract extension price as much as $181 million over 5 years along with his dogged, attack-the-rim recreation, a deeper have a look at his declining effectivity numbers are so as.

During the last 12 video games, Barrett, taking part in the primary 82-game season of his profession, is capturing simply 39 % general and 30 % from 3 regardless of averaging 24 factors.

His capturing share has dipped to 41 %, which ranks a hundred and fifth within the league for gamers with the minimal required variety of photographs. (Julius Randle is 104th — which speaks to why the Knicks are 12 video games below .500, having clinched a dropping season.)

RJ Barrett (r.) drives for a layup through the Knicks’ loss to the Hawks on March 22, 2022.
Jason Szenes

Extra alarming relating to Barrett’s effectivity are his numbers lately when video games are on the road. The 21-year-old appeared gassed vs. the Hawks on Monday, placing collectively a dreadful second half, when he shot 3 of 13 with three turnovers.

Within the second halves of the final three video games, Barrett has mixed to shoot 9 of 38 from the sphere (23.6 %) with six turnovers. Barrett will get one other crack at it Tuesday in Charlotte close to his previous school stomping grounds of Duke.

Final season, Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau talked repeatedly about how the most effective a part of Randle’s gaudy numbers was that it effected profitable. As complimentary because the Knicks coach has been relating to Barrett’s progress as an elite bull-to-the-basket scorer, the profitable factor hasn’t been there with the Knicks at 30-42.

RJ Barrett (r.) shoots through the Knicks’ loss to the Hawks on March 22, 2022.
Jason Szenes

“RJ’s a quantity shooter, which is a matter,” one NBA coach mentioned. “Gamers who’re quantity shooters rating. And he’s very gifted however he shot the ball higher final yr. The difficulty is defenses won’t ever guard him as a shooter till he illustrates far more consistency over time. That lack of consistency negates the all-important spacing.”

Barrett is near ending this season with a 20-point scoring common. In 61 video games, Barrett is averaging 19.7 factors however his 3-point share (34.9 from 40.1) and efficient field-goal share (47 % from 49.9) are every down from a season in the past. The latter analytic measures 2-point and 3-point effectivity in a single quantity. In Barrett’s protection, he’s performed with out a succesful level guard.

If the Knicks don’t supply him a max extension by October’s deadline, Barrett’s agent Invoice Duffy could attempt the 2023 restricted free company rout. The Knicks nonetheless are in management, capable of match an much more costly max supply if it comes from one other crew. However by the summer time of 2023, the Knicks additionally could have a greater learn on Barrett’s star worth than they are going to in October.

Barrett, whose sturdiness is unquestioned, has additionally been a wonderful rebounding guard this season — he grabbed 13 vs. Atlanta — averaging 5.9 whereas being a decent-enough defender, typically dealing with the opponent’s hardest wing. Playmaking (2.9 assists per recreation) nonetheless is a piece in progress.

“A max extension is a troublesome name as a result of bodily he’s gifted and has the potential of being extraordinarily good on the defensive finish,” the coach mentioned. “The 2 issues that matter most now is who’s he taking part in with and his angle in direction of making the best play. But when your quantity shooter isn’t environment friendly, it doesn’t bode properly for the crew as a complete.”

RJ Barrett (l.) tries to drive by Trae Younger through the Knicks’ loss to the Hawks on March 22, 2022.
Jason Szenes

In opposition to Atlanta, Barrett received to 30 factors by getting into for a layup within the last seconds down by eight factors — the Hawks content material to not guard him. However his tenth 30-point night time confirmed a line of 9 of 25 capturing, 1 of seven from 3, 11 of 17 from the free-throw line and 5 turnovers.

The Hawks pulled away within the last minutes as Trae Younger, who rang up 45 factors, and Bogdan Bogdanovic received crimson sizzling and Barrett light, exhibiting he’s nonetheless an unpolished gem.

“I really feel like they simply knew what they have been doing,” Barrett mentioned of the Hawks. “They went to particular issues they usually made photographs. They went to their two guys that have been sizzling they usually closed the sport out.”

Ever the optimist, Barrett sill took one thing out of the loss to Younger that has all however eradicated the Knicks from postseason rivalry.

“Undoubtedly shouldn’t have had 45 nevertheless it was 3-1, the collection this yr,” Barrett mentioned. “So general we did a very good job. However immediately was a troublesome one for certain.”

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