19 May GETTING TO KNOW NEW YORK KNICKS RJ BARRETT
Name: Rowan Alexander “RJ” Barrett Jr.
NickName: Maple Mamba
Born: June 14, 2000 (age 20) in Toronto, Ontario
Height: 6 ft 6 in Weight: 202 lb
Position: Shooting guard / Small forward
College: Duke (2018–2019)
NBA draft: 2019 / Round: 1 / Pick: 3rd overall- Selected by the New York Knicks
NY Knicks fans worried themselves sick throughout the abridged 2019-2020 season as Barrett, the 3rd overall pick of the 2019 draft, struggled to find his footing in the NBA. He was wildly inconsistent and could not be counted on to hit three-pointers nor free throws. He was not fluid going to the basket and/or dribbling with the ball in his hands and was unreliable off it. In 2021 his stats are much improved from year one. He’s up to 17.5 points per game and is shooting 5% better from the field and from 3. His post-all-star break numbers are particularly impressive. Since the second half of the season began on March 11th, RJ is averaging 19.2 points on 42% from 3 with 5.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists. He has emerged as the team’s secondary scorer behind Julius Randle.
Going into this season, did you expect this Knick team to be so good?
This season has been incredible.Just to be able to turn New York around, turn the Knicks organization around. It’s just been so special, Since the beginning of the season, no one really believed in us but we believed in ourselves. We’ve accomplished a lot, but we still have a lot more to do.
Who is the leader of the current Knick team?
My engine Julius and D Rose are huge for us. Please talk about Thibs, your coach. He’s always very honest & transparent. He has been like that since day one. Going into the season he changed the whole coaching staff. He has our respect & is constantly pushing us to get better. He’s definitely a big part of why we are, we are right now. He’s a very smart basketball mind. A lot of credit goes to him.
What’s the difference between your game this year & last year?
I’m a lot more comfortable. Like last year, if you iced me on the ball screen and made me go right, I’d be done. Now, I’ve learned how to snake and get back to my left or still get to where I want to on the court … or I can go right now and finish with my right hand. It’s tougher to stop when you add more things to your game. I’m only twenty years old. I plan on getting better every year.
Which team & players did you love growing up?
I always loved the Knicks. Because I’m young, I use to watch older games. I liked watching the Knicks versus the Pacers. I loved watching John Starks.
Favorite NBA guys growing up?
Lebron & Giannis.
At what point did you know that you wanted to play in the NBA?
I knew that I wanted to dedicate my life to basketball when I was 11 years old. I went to the United States from Europe because I felt it was the best opportunity for me to challenge myself, and it has helped me tremendously.
Who pushed you along to be an NBA basketball player?
Definitely my father. He taught me how to shoot, dribble and pass at a very young age. My father is the executive vice president and assistant general manager of Canada Basketball.
Steve Nash is a two-time MVP and eight-time All-Star. He is a Basketball Hall of Famer and one of the greatest point guards of all time. He is also you g-dfather. What advice has Steve Nash given you?
Just to continue to work hard and you will see results.