RJ Barrett. (Photo: Getty Images)
Contrary to the track record of a franchise that has made the questionable decision commonplace, the New York Knicks followed common sense.
RJ Barrett is officially on his way to Madison Square Garden, the Knicks taking the Duke product with the No. 3 pick of the 2019 NBA Draft on Thursday night from Brooklyn.
Since the Knicks came away with the third selection last month at the NBA Draft Lottery, Barrett was the only logical choice considering the top-two picks were locks.
The New Orleans Pelicans took Zion Williamson — the most highly-touted draft prospect since LeBron James — No. 1. The Memphis Grizzlies followed by selecting point guard Ja Morant from Murray State.
Memphis wasted no time ushering in the Morant era, either, as they traded away star point guard Mike Conley Jr. to the Utah Jazz on Wednesday.
Barrett was clearly the third-best prospect in the class of 2019. Considering the Knicks have glaring needs almost everywhere on the roster, the 6-foot-7 wing is the kind of bona fide talent to build on for the future.
Here is what you need to know about the newest Knick:
- Impressive build for a player his age. With the size of a small forward and the scoring ability of a guard, Barrett has a 6-foot-10 wingspan that will help get shots over/around defenders.
- His athleticism allows him to open up offensive opportunities from almost anywhere on the floor. He is almost unguardable in transition when paired with his length.
- Has the demeanor to thrive in New York. Does not shy away from the big moment and welcomes high expectations — which will certainly come with playing on the Knicks.
- An ability to vary his speeds when on the ball throws opposing defenders off their game.
- Has the court vision and passing ability to help facilitate the offense if the opposing defense's main priority is shutting him down.
- Solid spot shooter in games when allowed proper time and space.
- Holds the promise of becoming an elite defender if he can commit to that side of the ball.
- His ball-handling has been suspect. Barrett has shown a tendency to be loose in possession while working with the ball further away from his body.
- Poor decision-making at times, especially when it comes to his shot selection. It proves as a reminder that his game still has plenty of maturing to do.
- Can be a streaky shooter that could stymie an offense when he's off his game. Shot less than 60-percent from the free-throw line at Duke.
- Despite his size and length, Barrett struggles at times against larger defenders in the paint. Lacks that overwhelming finishing ability at the rim.
WHAT THE KNICKS CAN DO MOVING FORWARD
The 19-year-old can slot in at the shooting guard or small forward spot given his size and athleticism. It will give the Knicks the flexibility to go out and pursue a max-salary, free-agent point guard if they so choose.
Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker could be had on the market come Jul. 1.
Dennis Smith Jr. — who is held highly by Knicks management — could slot in at shooting guard while Barrett takes over the 3.
For the time being, Kevin Knox could slot in at power forward. That may be for only one year, however, if the Knicks choose to go all-in on the injured Kevin Durant. The Warriors star is likely to miss the 2019-20 season with a ruptured Achilles.
At center, the Knicks could bring back DeAndre Jordan or hand the keys to the young and promising Mitchell Robinson, which would keep with the theme of the Knicks building a young core.