• ronangaine

RJ Barrett the key for New York following strong start to 2021/22.

Updated: Dec 13, 2021

According to the NBA Power Rankings of Full Court Press, the New York Knicks are the third-best team in the league following the first month of action. A 5-1 record through October sees the Knicks make their best start to an NBA season since 2012/13. The problem to solve now is making sure this season is even better than last!

Julius Randle was the catalyst behind New York's great run last season, which saw the team return to the post-season and Randle win NBA's Most Improved Player. While also being named an All-Star for the first time and earning himself a spot on the All-NBA second team. Randle is the leader of this Knicks team, but his performance does not hold the key to success in 2022.

RJ Barrett was the third overall pick by the New York Knicks back in 2019. So far, he has been relatively underwhelming for a no.3 overall pick. However, he has improved year on year in the league. His ability to transition into an All-Star/All-Defensive caliber player in his third season will determine whether or not the Knicks improve on their 2020/21 season.

Barrett has shown himself to be one of the Knicks' best defenders this season, regularly guarding the opposition's most prominent offensive threat. Over the past three games, he has shown himself to be the Knicks' most prominent offensive threat. Barrett has dropped at least 20 points in each of the Knicks' last three games, including a career-high 35 points in the road win over the New Orleans Pelicans, where he took the reigns to close out the win when Julius Randle could not get it going.

RJ Barrett vs. the New Orleans Pelicans

Julius Randle is the best player on the New York Knicks team, he is still going to have big nights, but I don't see it when it comes to crunch time. Last night's loss to the Toronto Raptors said a lot about Julius Randle. He began the game red-hot, putting up 18 points, 4 rebounds & 3 assists in the opening quarter. He finished the 113-104 loss with a stat line of 22/9/5. Instead, RJ Barrett was carrying the fight for New York with 27 points & 6 rebounds.

Too many bad turnovers (averaging just under 3.5 per game), too many forced shots, and not enough scoring down the stretch. Julius Randle is struggling with now being a primary scorer & offensive threat and the prime target for opposing defenses.

RJ Barrett is thriving from the extra space left by Randle's defenders, and it is his time to become a star. Randle has the isolation & post-game that Barrett doesn't, but Barrett is showing an ability to tear down the lane and shoot from three.

Barrett & Randle must become a one-two punch this season for the Knicks to take that extra step.