Being a top 3 draft pick in the NBA draft comes with a lot of buzz and expectations. Those expectations are heightened further when you play in New York City.
RJ Barrett will be faced with unreasonable expectations from day 1. It’ll be paramount the coaching staff keep him grounded through the inevitable ups and downs.
So what is reasonable for the former Duke standout? Expectations are already high, with NYC anticipating him being the starting shooting guard this year. RJ showed just how talented he is in summer league, nearly posting triple-doubles in his final 2 games. With his ability to rebound the basketball and excellent court vision, RJ can already affect the game in multiple ways outside of scoring.
One aspect of his game that certainly needs improvement is his jump shot. He already has a great shooting motion, now it’s all about the reps this summer and training camp. Once he can consistently knock down that jumper, he’s going to be an impressive triple-threat player. Another area he can afford to improve in is his defense. Some of this is having a slight build right now and some of it will be getting used to the NBA game speed.
While starting RJ and letting him play with the starting 5 is probably the best option for him, coming off the bench and anchoring the second unit isn’t bad either. Playing with the starters ensures other ball handlers and guys who can get their own shot will be on the floor. This would ease much of the pressure on RJ to create. He would be able to play off the action of everyone else, likely getting himself better looks at the rim.
Statistically, it wouldn’t be out of the question for RJ to post a stat line around 13.5 pts, 5.5 boards, and 4 assists a game. His shooting percentages will likely be relatively low considering he’s inefficient from the perimeter at this point in his career. However, his ability to rebound and pass should bode well with the young vets on the court with him.
Overall, playing under Fizdale, RJ should experience a solid rookie season. There will be many ups and downs which is to be expected. More importantly, it will be important for him to stay grounded and keep working hard throughout the season no matter the results. Too many times, expectations weigh down players. It happens in New York all the time. With many veterans on the squad, RJ shouldn’t have an issue handling NYC at all.
Training camp is around the corner.