RJ Barrett reflected on his challenging fourth year in the NBA after his lackluster finish to the regular season.
Barrett scored only 18 points on 6-of-17 shooting in a foul-plagued 37-minute stint during the New York Knicks 141-136 loss to a star-less Indiana Pacers team on Sunday. It was the team’s second straight loss since he returned from an illness. During this span, Barrett shot a horrendous 3-for-18 from deep.
“This season just taught me how many good players you can have on a team,” Barrett said, “and it still works, and everybody’s still effective.”
Julius Randle rekindled his All-Star form and is playing better than in his first All-Star season. Brunson brought leadership and stability to their backcourt. Quickley grew from a trade chip to an indispensable part of the rotation and the frontrunner for the Sixth Man of the Year award. Grimes is on a tear to end the regular season, finding his touch from beyond the arc while guarding the opposing team’s best players.
“That’s something that is great,” Barrett said. “It feels good to be just on this team with so many players who can play well on any given night and bring anything to the table. I think it makes our team just so deadly. That’s what I take from the season, and just like continuing to stick with it.”
RJ Barrett Falls Short of Knicks History
Barrett fell short of averaging 20 points per game this season, which could have given the Knicks three 20-point scorers in a single season for the first time in franchise history. He ended up averaging 19.6 points per game.
Except for his improved shotmaking at the rim, all Barrett’s numbers are down in a season many expected would be his breakout year after signing a four-year extension last summer that could pay him up to $120 million, the largest contract in franchise history.
Barrett, though, has time on his side to find his footing on a Knicks team on an upward trajectory.
Knicks Overcome Slow Start
The Knicks defied the preseason odds of 38.5 wins and a sluggish start to clinch the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference.
New York coach Tom Thibodeau‘s job was in jeopardy after a 10-13 start. Fox Sports reported that Thibodeau thought he was going to get fired in December. Then Thibodeau shortened the rotation, resulting in a tightened defense, and the rest is history.
“It really wasn’t looking the greatest at the beginning of the year. But as we always say, it is 82 games. And at this point, I think this has gone very well so far. So, just got to finish it up [in the playoffs],” Barrett said.
“It worked because we work hard; we kind of just stick to what [Thibodeau] is trying to tell us to do. And everyone works on their game. We’re really serious. Just as a team, we’re serious about winning. We’re serious about everybody playing well, and I think we’re disciplined on and off the court,” he added.