The New York Knicks may project to be a middle-of-the-pack, .500-record team but fourth-year wing RJ Barrett seems to have much higher aspirations for the club.
In a one-on-one interview with renowned sportscaster, Ahmad Rashad posted on the team’s Youtube channel on November 22, when asked what the “next step” in his career is, the 22-year-old noted that while All-Star and All-NBA nods are certainly on his mind, he ultimately shifted the focus from individual goals to team goals.
“Team-wise, we gotta get back to the playoffs and make a run,” Barrett told Rashad. “My second year we got a taste of the playoffs and…now it’s all you think about. That’s all you think about. You try to do everything to get back there and it’s some of the most fun basketball I’ve ever played in my life.”
The Knicks managed to snap a seven-year playoff drought back during the 2020-21 campaign where they surprised the masses by winning 41 games and finished the year off with the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference standings.
Since then New York has accumulated an overall record of 46-54 and missed out on both the postseason and play-in tournament during their highly anticipated follow-up 2021-22 campaign.
Barrett, like the vast majority of Knicks fans, hopes to soon snap their current playoff-less streak.
Barrett Describes Himself as ‘A Dog’
Rashad would follow up his “next step” question by asking the Knicks wing how he would describe himself. In response, Barrett went on to answer with only two words: “a dog.”
“RJ Barrett is a dog,” he said. “He’s competitive, and he’s going to go out there on the court and give you what he has every night. I’m not going to be the fanciest dude… but I’m going to be productive, I’m going to be there for my teammates. You’re going to see me there every night. Through pain, through anything I’m on the court.”
After having signed a lucrative four-year, $120 million contract extension this past offseason, RJ Barrett finds himself putting forth rather impressive, albeit a bit inconsistent season stat-line of 18.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per contest.
Knicks Urged to Give Sims More Minutes
In a recent sit-down with Heavy Sports’ NBA Insider Sean Deveney, an anonymous Eastern Conference coach stressed the fact that, moving forward into the 2022-23 campaign, the New York Knicks should strongly consider giving sophomore big man Jericho Sims more playing time within the regular rotation.
“I really like Jericho Sims, a lot of coaches do, a lot of teams do,” the coach told Deveney. “He makes mistakes on both ends but that can be fixed with experience. He is a crazy athlete, off the charts with the way he can move and jump at his size. Very springy. They knew he was a project and he might not be ready yet but every time he plays, he gets a little better.”
Though the 24-year-old has struggled overall to find a consistent role within head coach Tom Thibodeau’s rotation, this season he has seen a drastic uptick in playing time due to the team’s frontcourt injury woes, and has even earned himself two starting nods through 13 games played.
Since typical starter Mitchell Robinson went down with a right knee sprain back on November 5, the Knicks big has been a regular within Thibodeau’s rotation and, in turn, has sported solid per-game averages of 5.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks on a whopping 74.3% shooting from the floor in 18.3 minutes during this span.