Duke’s roster is loaded with an embarrassment of riches. The Blue Devils’ current crop of players boasts four freshmen worthy of attention from NBA teams. Just outside of the bright spotlight placed on Zion Williamson is guard RJ Barrett. The Canadian perimeter player entered this season as a contender to be the top pick in the 2019 NBA Draft and he has only ceded ground to his fellow freshman teammate.
Since debuting with Duke, Barrett has proven he can create for himself and others. Armed with a diverse set of skills on offense, he is primed to change the fortunes of the NBA team that calls his name on draft night. The majority of mock drafts currently show Barrett locked into the lottery. Here is a look at three projected lottery teams that are solid fits for Barrett at the next level.
RJ Heads to Chicago
The Bulls would instantly bolster their wing rotation by selection Barrett. Admittedly, a partnership with Zach LaVine on the perimeter might trigger some growing pains, but the potential is there. Both players would have to learn to be more effective without the ball in their hands. Despite his relatively poor three-point shooting percentage as a freshman, Barrett has shown glimpses of his upside as a facilitator. During Duke’s tour of Canada before the season, Barrett masterfully fulfilled point guard duties with Tre Jones on the sideline.
If LaVine and Barrett can learn to play off each other, the Bulls’ perimeter play will lead the way for their talented big men in the post. A trio of Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr. and Barrett would give Chicago a strong foundation for the future.
The Magic Land Barrett
Like the Bulls, Barrett’s path to the starting lineup with the Magic seems murky at first. Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon are locked into sizable contracts and Jonathan Isaac will be a tough competitor for minutes at both forward spots. Even with those hurdles in mind, the Magic are lacking a player with Barrett’s promising two-way potential on the wing.
Building around a future that involves plenty of two-man sets from Barrett and Mohamed Bamba is worthy of consideration on its own. Add in Barrett’s dynamic playmaking in transition and you have an instant match for Gordon’s ability to finish above the rim.
Barrett Brings Life to Cleveland
The Cavaliers still have serious work to do before they can be considered contenders again, but adding Barrett would be a clear step in the right direction. The 18-year-old guard would slide into a significant role in Cleveland with ease. If Barrett and Collin Sexton build chemistry quickly, the Cavaliers’ road back to relevance will be shorter than expected.
Sexton and Barrett have credible concerns regarding their outside shooting, but they are both young and capable of improvement. Even if neither one develops elite-level accuracy from beyond the arc, they would still have the potential to blossom into one of the most dynamic backcourts in the entire NBA.